Researchers: Woman’s chest pains caused by broken heart after death of her dog

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A 61-year-old woman reported to an emergency room last year reporting chest pains. Doctors found she had takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or "broken heart syndrome." It has similar symptoms as a heart attack but no arteries are blocked. The woman said she was "close to inconsolable" after the death of Meha, her dog.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Yes, there really is such a thing as suffering from a broken heart.

Last year, a 61-year-old woman went to the emergency room after reporting she had severe chest pain.

However, the woman was not dealing with a heart attack. After a series of tests, doctors determined she had takotsubo cardiomyopathy, better known as "broken heart syndrome."

Details of her case were reported in this week's New England Journal of Medicine, by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.

The woman, Joanie Simpson, told the Washington Post she recently lost her 9-year-old Yorkshire terrier, Meha.

"I was close to inconsolable," Simpson told the Post. "I really took it really, really hard."

Broken heart syndrome, also known as stress cardiomyopathy, can be misdiagnosed as a heart attack because test results and symptoms are similar, according to the American Heart Association.

The key difference: There's no evidence of blocked arteries in someone with broken heart syndrome. Researchers found Simpson's coronary arteries were normal.

Women are more likely than men to suffer from broken heart syndrome. Harvard Medical School said more than 90 percent of reported cases involve women ages 58-75.

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