Broken heart syndrome is a temporary heart condition that is triggered by emotional stress, such as the death or a loved one, break up or anxiety. There is a temporary disruption of the muscular portion of the heart, weakening the heart’s normal pumping function which in turn may cause individuals to experience symptoms similar to a heart attack such as sudden chest pains. Broken heart syndrome is also known as takotsubo cardiomyopathy, apical ballooning syndrome or stress cardiomyopathy by doctors.


Common symptoms of broken heart syndrome may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Breathing difficulty


The precise cause of a broken heart syndrome is unclear; however there are factors that are potential triggers. They may include:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Domestic abuse
  • Financial loss
  • Natural disasters
  • Physical stressors
  • A surprise party
  • Medical conditions or medications

Risk Factors 

Broken heart syndrome affects and is most common in women who are 50 years old or older.


Although broken heart syndrome usually reverses itself in about a week, complications that can arise may include:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Excess of fluid into the lungs
  • In rare cases, broken heart syndrome is fatal.


There is no proven therapy that can help prevent further episodes of broken heart syndrome. Doctors may recommend treatment with beta blockers or similar medications to block the possible damaging effects of stress hormones on the heart. Individuals identifying and managing stress is also crucial.