An elderly couple I knew had been married for 62 years. I never saw one without the other, even when one or the other was hospitalized over the years. It was a fact: their love ran as deep as any ocean! However, when the husband passed away suddenly, it had devastating consequences on his wife. She was grief-stricken, depressed and lonely. It was only a matter of weeks before she passed away, too.
You may have heard similar stories in your circle of family, friends and neighbors. It’s a real condition known as Broken Heart Syndrome. In as much as hearts don’t “break” per se, the consequences of an emotional shock can prove to be fatal in some cases.
The medical term for Broken Heart Syndrome is “stress-induced cardiomyopathy” or “takotsubo cardiomyopathy.” It is more prevalent in women than men, and it often occurs following the death of a loved one, usually a spouse or child. An influx of stress hormones can also result after a divorce, when an important relationship ends, or after experiencing a sudden shock.
Seniors suffering from Broken Heart Syndrome may easily be misdiagnosed as having had a heart attack, because both can cause severe chest pain, irregular heartbeats and similarities of blood substances that appear during both. However, the dynamics between the two conditions are different.
Heart attacks happen when arteries are blocked, and due to a lack of blood, the heart stops working. There are no indications of blocked arteries in Broken Heart Syndrome, but one chamber of the heart becomes temporarily enlarged and does not function properly, as the other three chambers do. Heart disease is usually not a factor in Broken Heart Syndrome, either, but it is when it comes to heart attacks.
Always remember to check-in with the special seniors in your life and let them know how much they are loved! Assess their current situation to determine if they are experiencing episodes of depression, loneliness, or emotional stress. Perhaps, you can visit for awhile and keep them company, or offer to help out with errands. Even better, take them out for a meal, which is a great way to gauge how they are eating and how they interact with others in social situations.
If you notice warning signs that could lead to, or are consistent with Broken Heart Syndrome, like depression, anxiety, and/or emotional stress, have them checked out by their cardiologist or primary care provider. Broken Heart Syndrome can be treated in most cases, with patients achieving a full recovery, and lesser chances of a reoccurrence. Unfortunately, there are exceptions that have proven fatal, like that of the dear woman who lost her spouse of 62 years.
If you are concerned about a senior in your life that may be suffering from Broken Heart Syndrome, and you are not sure what to do, call Home Helpers® today. It may prove greatly beneficial to have a companion spend time with them to help alleviate some of the stress, and take their mind off what troubles them.
Home Helpers® proudly serves male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas. Give me a call to learn more about companion care, and everything that is made possible thanks to our compassionate caregivers and the many services offered through Home Helpers®. We are Making Life Easier℠.
*Source: American Heart Association