Friday, August 7, 2009

The cost of stress with a broken heart

Somehow I've always known and felt this was true. I'm dealing with it now, or at least trying to deal with it.

“Broken Heart Syndrome”: Severe Emotional Stress and Heart Disease

Research has shown that some people may respond to overwhelming emotional stress by releasing large amounts of catecholamines, such as epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenalin), into the blood stream. Along with this massive release of catecholamines are small proteins produced by an over-stimulated nervous system.

These substances are temporarily toxic to the heart and can disrupt its function. The result is stress cardiomyopathy, a condition that mimics a classic heart attack, including chest pain, fluid in the lungs, shortness of breath, and actual heart failure.

Researchers have dubbed this condition “broken heart” syndrome, because it is brought on solely by emotional stress rather than by the classic physiological causes, such as plaque build-up. Patients who have experienced this condition do not have blockages in their arteries; they do not have elevated levels of cardiac enzymes that are typically released into the blood stream after a heart attack; and they do not suffer permanent muscle damage. Instead, the muscle damage suffered after broken heart syndrome is reversible, unlike that suffered from a classic heart attack. Recovery time after broken heart syndrome is also much faster- most completely recover within two weeks.

Patients who have suffered broken heart syndrome show initial catecholamine levels that are two to three times that in patients who suffer classic heart attacks, and seven to thirty-four times as high as normal levels.

But broken heart syndrome is not the only way the heart is affected by emotional stress. While broken heart syndrome can be caused by a single traumatic event, the deleterious effects of stress on the heart can also be cumulative. Stress that lasts over a long period of time can negatively affect the entire body, including the adrenal glands. The importance of strengthening the body from the effects of years of chronic stress is critical to heart health and function.


I saw the doctor and he suggested pray, meditation, walking and exercise. I have been doing all those things as I feel moved and have time to do them. My back problems have been flaring up again which is another thing I've always believed... that my physical problems are made worse with my emotional problems.

It's not just the love interest problems I've been having that are wearing on me either. I'm about to lose the job I've had for 20 years and am on a path of being alone on a financial upgrade. I've always made enough money to support myself and others around me and now I'm facing the inability to do so and it's happening during a time of a faltering economy. I'm scared. I'm lonely and I so desparately want and need to cry but my stubborness hasn't let me give way to the free fall of tears that I need so badly. My motto has usually been... "don't cry because all you'll get is a wet face".

I've always tried to think positively and always thought I had the strength to make it through whatever difficulties life presented me with but thoughts were carry overs from younger years and I am so much older now.

I've lost faith in humanity. I've totally lost faith in men (which has always been an issue with me anyhow) and I wonder if there is such a thing as compassion or empathy anymore. Oh wait... it does still survive or I wouldn't have held on to and tried to help others less fortunate than me!

However, I'm becoming a bitter, crazy old bitch and this is something I always swore I wouldn't allow to happen to me. I always said I wanted to age gracefully like Katherine Hepburn. Oh well, there is the face that is presented to the screen and the world... maybe she was as bitter as I've become and we just never knew it.

Okay, I've vented and I feel a tad bit better... off to find other positive reading material that will at least help me get through the next hour or so of this life.