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What happens to your body after a breakup?

Couple after an argument stands on different sides of the wall

Have you just broken up and now experiencing chest pains and difficulty in breathing? Are you afraid that it could lead to a cardiac illness? Well, you have reasons to be anxious. Various studies have now proven that although it’s rare, cardiac illnesses can happen. But wait, don’t panic just yet. This could only worsen your condition if you do. Continue reading and learn more about it.

The risk of a heart attack depends on various factors, such as your age, your lifestyle, and the severity of your acute emotional distress. Researchers conducted various studies regarding this topic and here’s what they have to say.

Breakups and Cardiac Illnesses

A research conducted by a team of experts found out that stress cardiomyopathy, also known as broken heart syndrome, mimics the neural pathway of acute coronary syndrome. Since breakups exert emotional stress, it can be categorized as one of the causes of stress cardiomyopathy.

Some studies had observed that the left region of the heart is mostly involved with the changes that occur in the heart.

Also, there were instances when stress cardiomyopathy resulted in mild scarring of the heart.

Some of these cardiac illnesses are:

  • Cardiac scarring
  • Acute cardiac syndrome
  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • Stroke
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hypertension

Secondary and other symptoms

  • Blood gas imbalance
  • Indigestion and other stomach disturbances
  • Pain in arms or back
  • Nape pain
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

A study on Broken Heart Syndrome conducted by Dr. Salim Virani et al have proven that Broken Heart Syndrome or Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy imitates the clinical presentation of an acute coronary syndrome. Therefore, all the physical manifestations that the sick patient shows are also the same ones with that of a broken-hearted person. These physical symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, and heartache.

Meanwhile, in a recent study done by researchers about the same topic, and published in the Harvard News Letter, stress cardiomyopathy or Broken Heart Syndrome gives the same symptoms as that of a heart attack. These include chest pain and other symptoms.

The study also identified the other symptoms such as: lightheadedness, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, and pain in the back or arms. If untreated, these can aggravate to life-threatening conditions. This confirms the findings of the earlier study.

What causes the symptoms?

The stress hormones are triggered when the Central Nervous System recognizes the stimulus that the body has an emergency situation. Thus, the hypothalamus will activate the concerned endocrine glands – in this case, the adrenal medulla – to increase the secretion of the stress hormones (catecholamine).

Examples of catecholamine hormones are:

  • Epinephrine (adrenaline)
  • Norepinephrine (noradrenaline)
  • Dopamine

The increased secretion of the catecholamine into the bloodstream will trigger the symptoms mentioned above. The catecholamine can also increase your blood sugar concentration, your blood pressure, your pulse rate and your respiratory rate. These physiological responses are meant to cope with the “emergency status” that your body is supposed to be in.

What should you do?

In cases when you experience any type of chest pain and the other symptoms, you must consult your physician. For whatever reasons, whether it’s because of your breakup or not, it’s still best to consult your doctor. This is to ascertain that you are not having a real heart attack.

You may also want to have a general checkup while you’re in the hospital. Any underlying disease can become severe due to the emotional stress coming from your breakup. You might think that the chest pain is just from your breakup, but you’ll never know until you have diagnostic laboratory tests done.

If the diagnosis is indeed myocardial infarction (heart attack), then you may have to be admitted to the hospital. You must follow your doctor’s orders properly to ensure that you will recover well. Keep in mind that an untreated heart attack can debilitate you for life.

Tips on coping with chest pains after a breakup

  • If the chest pain is like a strong, pressing pain, consult your doctor immediately. Most likely, this can be a heart attack.
  • Sensations of being choked can also be an urgent condition that needs immediate treatment. Consult your doctor, or rush to the nearest health centre in your area.
  • Coughing hard can help in countering the immediate effects of MI, while in transit to the hospital. However, it’s not a treatment method.
  • Relax and think of positive thoughts to prevent stressing your body. The stress is what triggers the increased secretion of your stress hormones.
  • Your mind controls how your body reacts. Prevent the occurrence of a heart attack caused by stress by not wallowing in your misery and depression.
  • Keep yourself busy. This will help you overcome your negative emotions.
  • Exercise daily for at least 30 minutes. This will boost your health and stamina and decrease your risk of cardiac conditions.
  • Eat a balanced diet; 35 to 45% of carbohydrates for your energy; 25% protein, 25% good fats, and 5% minerals and vitamins. It’s recommended to consume more fruits and vegetables than meat and dairy products.
  • Get sufficient sleep – at least 8 hours a day. Sleep deprivation can result in a myriad of unhealthy conditions, such as: decreased cognitive abilities, headaches, dizziness and hallucinations.
  • Keep away from drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine. All these substances have addictive properties and are detrimental to your health. Caffeine acts the same way that adrenaline (a stress hormone) does. Hence, it can increase your risk of a heart attack.

Observing all the guidelines presented in this post will help prevent a heart attack, It will also help you get over your breakup.

If all the predisposing factors are present, yes, you can suffer a heart attack after a breakup. The primary action to avoid this is to harbour a positive frame of mind. This will stop the stress hormones from being triggered. Aside from this, you must also observe a healthy lifestyle; so that when you’re emotionally down, your body’s natural defence mechanism could kick in.

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Written by Eric

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