Broken Heart Syndrome

Hi. Can you please explain the difference between a heart attack and Broken Heart Syndrome.  My daughter had a baby and then the next day was told she was having a heart attack.  Her cardiac enzymes did elevate.  Now the doctor is calling it Broken heart syndrome.  Would cardiac enzymes elevated with broken heart syndrome or only in a heart attack? Daughter is 35 years old, first child, no previous heart problems.

Broken heart syndrome (also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy) is a temporary heart condition brought on by stressful situations, such as the death of a loved one or in your daughter's case, the birth of her baby. Patients with broken heart syndrome may have sudden chest pain may mimic a heart attack, that may have been caused a surge of stress hormones. In broken heart syndrome, a part of the heart temporarily enlarges and doesn't pump well, while the remainder of the heart functions normally or with even more forceful contractions. The condition usually reverses itself in about a week.

To confirm a diagnosis, a variety of tests will need to be done that include blood tests, an EKG, chest X-rays and an cardiac ECHO, and a CTA of the chest to exclude the possibility of a pulmonary embolism.

Treatment is similar to treatment for a heart attack until the diagnosis is clear. Most people stay in the hospital while they recover.

Hope this helps,
Dr T


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