Broken-Heart Syndrome Tends to Affect Women

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy occurs more often in females

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Emotional turmoil can spur what's known as "broken heart syndrome," which has symptoms that while reversible, tend to closely resemble a heart attack. Women appear significantly more likely to be affected than men.

Formally called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, the condition is usually brought on by emotional distress, regardless of whether those stressors are positive or negative.

"Reduce emotional stress through counseling. Speak with a therapist."

Dr. Abhishek Deshmukh, lead researcher and a cardiologist at the University of Arkansas, found that women are seven and a half times as likely to develop broken heart syndrome. The reason isn't clear, though additional research has been requested regarding a possible hormonal influence.

Researchers reviewed the 2007 Nationwide Inpatient Sample database, and pinpointed cases of broken heart syndrome or reversible left ventricular dysfunction following emotional stress. They included 6,229 patients of which 5,558 were women.

Of the hospital discharges, 11 percent of patients who had suffered from broken heart syndrome were between the ages of 18 and 50, while 32 percent were between 50 and 65, and 58 percent were older than 65.

In addition to finding the gender disparity, investigators found that women older than 55 were at a risk almost three times higher of developing the syndrome as compared to younger women. Among women who were younger than 55, women were nearly 10 times as likely to develop broken heart syndrome as compared to men.

Among men, there was no difference in risk for broken heart syndrome based on age.

The research was recently presented at the American Heart Association's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

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Review Date: 
November 18, 2011
Last Updated:
November 24, 2011