Rare Heart Condition Linked to Stress May Be Increasing During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Cleveland Clinic researchers have found an increasing number of stress-related heart conditions throughout the pandemic. A recent study shows a significant increase in patients experiencing stress cardiomyopathy, also known as “broken heart syndrome,” during the pandemic. Stress cardiomyopathy is a temporary heart condition that’s brought on by stressful situations and extreme emotions. They say there’s no cure for a broken heart, but it turns out that one cure might be self-care, especially during a global pandemic. Cleveland Clinic researchers have found an increasing number of stress-related heart conditions throughout the pandemic.According to a recent studyTrusted Source, there’s been a significant increase in patients experiencing stress cardiomyopathy, also known as “broken heart syndrome,” during the pandemic.The Mayo Clinic explains that stress cardiomyopathy is a temporary heart condition that’s brought on by stressful situations and extreme emotions. The symptoms are similar to a heart attack, such as chest pain and shortness of breath.“Stress cardiomyopathy is an acute and usually transient event causing weakening of the heart muscle in a characteristic pattern at the apex of the heart due to an extremely emotional or physical stressful event,” said Dr. Guy L. Mintz, director of cardiovascular health and lipidology at Northwell Health’s Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital in Manhasset, New York.
As part of the new study, cardiologists looked at 258 patients coming into Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland Clinic Akron General with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) between March 1 and April 30. These patients were compared with four control groups of patients with ACS before the pandemic.
The research found a significant increase in patients diagnosed with stress cardiomyopathy — 7.8 percent compared with 1.7 percent pre-pandemic.Those who had stress cardiomyopathy during the pandemic had a longer length of hospital stay as well. Interestingly, all patients diagnosed with stress cardiomyopathy tested negative for COVID-19.
“Stress cardiomyopathy… is not directly caused by COVID-19, but is a consequence of COVID-19 and its psychosocial and economic effects,” Mintz said.“It is no surprise that stress cardiomyopathy has increased during this pandemic. There is a connection between the heart and the brain. Emotional and physical stress are triggers for this entity. The social restraints during this pandemic set up a foundation for certain patients to go on and have stress cardiomyopathy,” he explained.Doctors and clinicians must be aware of the association between the psychosocial feeling of hopelessness and the effects of COVID-19.

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