Valentine's Day has been and gone, a time when people who have been unlucky in love are said to suffer from a broken heart.
But it turns out that a broken heart is an actual medical condition!
Broken heart syndrome can occur during highly stressful or emotional times, such as a painful break-up, the death of a spouse, the loss of a job or extreme anger, explained Dr Glyn Thomas, a consultant cardiologist at Spire Bristol Hospital.
Known medically as takotsubo cardiomyopathy, symptoms are similar to those of a heart attack, including chest pain and difficulty breathing and can occur in people with completely healthy hearts.
“During an extremely stressful event the heart can be overwhelmed with a surge of adrenalin and other stress hormones,” said Dr Thomas.
The good news is, like most love songs will tell you, a broken heart will mend and symptoms should, over time, disappear.
Dr Thomas said: “If patients are under the care of physicians familiar with this syndrome, even the most critically ill tend to make a quick and complete recovery within six to eight weeks.”
But he warned: “It is difficult to distinguish between broken heart syndrome and a heart attack, so anyone experiencing chest pains or difficulty in breathing should assume the worst and call 999 immediately.”
Now he is encouraging people to learn more about their hearts and is supporting the National Heart Month that runs throughout February.
“Despite major national campaigns and massive media coverage of heart disease and how to keep it healthy, it is amazing how little people know about their most vital organ.
“Keeping your heart healthy is vital but so is taking action if you think something is wrong. The faster you seek expert advice the more likely it is that problems can be corrected. Ignoring the signs of heart problems is really not an option!”
Spire Bristol’s consultant cardiac surgeons, consultant cardiologists and specialist clinical staff are at the top of their profession, are passionate about what they do and have met stringent national standards in clinical quality, education and research. By meeting these standards, they ensure that they are able to offer the very best treatment and care to the patients who choose Spire Healthcare.
As the only private hospital in the South West with an Intensive Care Unit, the team at Spire Bristol are able to perform complex cardiac surgery, giving vital reassurance to patients.