Broken heart syndrome is a temporary condition that is often confused with having a heart attack. The symptoms are similar, such as shortness of breath and chest pain. It mostly affects middle-aged and elderly women and is often caused by emotional or physical stress. The condition is almost never fatal, causes no long term heart damage, and usually doesn't reoccur.
Symptoms of the condition occur when stress causes your body to be flooded with catecholamine hormones. Blood pressure and heart rate increase. There is also a sudden and temporary weakening of the mycardium. A bulging out of the left ventricular apex with a hypercontractile base of the left ventricle of the heart often happens.
The condition is commonly referred to as stress cardiomyopathy, stress-induced cardiomyopathy, or apical ballooning syndrome. Symptoms can be prevented by reducing anxiety before it increases. It is different from a heart attack because a heart attack is caused by blocked arteries and broken heart syndrome is caused by a surge of adrenaline and other hormones. One to two percent of patients who are diagnoses with a heart attack are actually experiencing the condition.