Broken Heart Syndrome in Men: Is it real?

By: Aakriti Gupta

When your love boat hits the iceberg, it feels like your world is ending. We can empathise with it. We usually bury our feelings when it comes to love and break-ups, but men enshroud them one foot deeper in the earth. Men take a longer time than women to move on, but if it’s been weeks and months and you still have not healed, you might be agonising due to the Broken Heart syndrome.

Breakups suck, why wouldn’t they? After all, since the only person you opened up to is no more in your life, leaving you mortified and emotionally gashed. No matter how many stress coping mechanisms men can adopt to deal with, it is hard to heal from the loss of letting go of ‘your person’. 

While bingeing on cold beer along with those chicken leg pieces might be a service to men to flog with their buddies and try to adequately process the series of emotions, we know you aren’t able to forget the pain. And it’s okay! Even if you are the one who kicked off the breakup process.

We are neither expecting you to be stoic and emotionless freaks nor to resort to numbing all your emotions in that dark tunnel of your mind. But be slightly conscious about your heart health. 

If you still haven’t set the seal on your healing process and might be feeling heartache (physically) for a long time then you might be going through Broken Heart syndrome.

What is Broken Heart syndrome?

Broken Heart syndrome or Stress Cardiomyopathy/ Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy is a temporary medical condition. It gets aggravated when the heart muscle is stunned and then weakened, causing the left ventricle to change its shape due to intense emotional or physical strain (heartbreak).

This lessens the ability to pump blood causing Arrhythmias, a medical condition where a weakened heart loses its ability to pump blood to meet the body’s needs and can be fatal if not treated right away. *Researchers have observed 135,463 incidents between 2006-2017 in US patient hospital records due to this syndrome. 

Using ultrasounds and MRIs, *Researchers at Aberdeen University have concluded that the syndrome has a permanent effect on the heart’s pumping motion and delays the ‘wringing’ motion that is made during our heart beating. But usually old people suffer this permanent hitch in their heart functioning.

Broken Heart Syndrome in many men can have physical pain.

How can you identify it?

Blocked and deleted, still, social media algorithms aren’t working in favour, making you take a trip down memory lane of your former partner eventually leaving you crying your eyes out, and physically hurting simultaneously is the one for the starters! 

You might go through a series of emotional stressors like insecurity, grief, anger, and fear along with physical stressors such as chest pain (angina), short breath, dizziness, stroke, sweating, seizer, low blood pressure (hypotension), low sugar level (hypoglycemia) and heart failure (usually in old age).

Broken Heart Syndrome Diagnosis

If any of the symptoms escalate further deteriorating your heart health, it’s high time to confer with a doctor. After completion of your medical history, your doctor might order several tests including:

  • EKG( electrocardiogram) to measure your heart’s electrical activity.
  • Chest X-ray to look at the structure of your heart, lungs, and blood vessels.
  • Echocardiography (using sound waves to create moving images of your heart’s pumping action).
  • Cardiac MRI to produce both stable and moving pictures of your heart.
  • Ventriculogram (using a dye injected into the heart’s left ventricle to show the X-ray to show the size and  pumping efficiency of this heart chamber).
  • A coronary angiogram shows the presence or absence of any blockages to the arteries.

Every problem has a solution!

Don’t fret, in the majority of cases, the left ventricle slowly returns to its position over the next few days, weeks, or months making the syndrome treatable. Reflection on your emotions will help you to achieve the milestone of the healing process soon. 

Regaling in relaxation techniques can be advantageous such as yoga, music, meditation, journaling, or mindfulness to cope with your emotions. 

You can also join support groups to discourse about your pain with people who have gone through parallel experiences. Let go of the things that are already gone, holding you back, and learn the lessons. Taking a trip to hilly areas or beaches, where you can relax and appreciate the scenery will work too.

Getting an acceptable amount of sleep and physical exercise will be worthwhile. Avoid unhealthy habits like drinking, smoking, and illicit drug use as they can trigger your tucked-up sentiments.

How is Broken Heart syndrome different from a heart attack?

Broken Heart Syndrome can be a reality for many Men.

Typically, people get perplexed between heart attack and Broken Heart syndrome as they feel the same but are completely disparate. Heart attacks are caused by blockages of waxy build ups within your arteries leading to your heart.

But in Broken Heart syndrome, your heart muscles are not permanently damaged and your coronary arteries are not blocked. It’s the blood that doesn’t flow as it should. Here are some more differences that are medically examined:

  •  Blood tests show no sign of heart rupture.
  •  The lower part of your left ventricle is enlarged along with unusual muscle wall movements.
  •  There is no scar tissue present in your heart.
  •  EKG will look abnormal but not like how it looks on the person who had a heart attack.
  •  Recovery time will be days or months as compared to the years that a heart attack survivor takes to heal.

Conclusion

Sometimes, relationships crumble and we get our hearts broken. Our senses take a hike at such a time leaving us high and dry and to deal with that, men mostly sweep their sentiments and feelings under the rug for a long time which can be brutal for your heart health causing the Broken Heart syndrome.

What’s prominent to recall, is that heartbreak and its pain don’t last forever, eventually, you will come out alive, completely scar-free, and much stronger, either with the right medical treatment or some healing time depending upon your condition. Be proud of yourself when it’s all over! 

Keynote
  1. Researchers at Aberdeen University: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.037975
  2. Researchers have observed: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/JAHA.120.019583
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