While your head is a jumble of emotional replays, the physical toll of heartbreak is real. After calling it quits it’s not uncommon to suffer from decreased appetite, headaches, irregular menstrual cycles or breakouts. But for some, emotional trauma can lead to lasting physical damage.
Researchers at the University of Aberdeen followed 52 patients with “broken heart syndrome” and found a bad breakup can genuinely screw with your heart. The findings were recently published in the Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography.
The syndrome, Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, is a rare condition caused by intense emotional or physical stress, where the heart muscle is literally stunned, leading to the left ventricle changing shape. The misshape of the heart affects its ability to pump blood and, as things stand, there’s no cure. In 70 percent of cases they identified an emotional stressor, like the death of a partner.
Although for many patients the heart’s functioning seems to return to normal within four months, there is scarring that continues. “We used to think that people who suffered from Takotsubo cardiomyopathy would fully recover, without medical intervention,” Dana Dawson, who led the research, told the Telegraph. “Here we’ve shown that this disease has much longer lasting damaging effects on the hearts of those who suffer from it.”
Luckily, most sufferers will have their left ventricle working within a few weeks or months. But for others, it shows just how much of a toll an emotional shock can take on the body. Use that newly freed up time to look after the most important person in your iCal – numero uno.