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The culprit that your heart suffers when you live a very sad experience can be your own brain.
A group of Swiss researchers studied a group of people suffering from a strange condition called “broken heart syndrome.”
This condition occurs in some people when, after living sad or stressful emotional experience , heart failure and weakened. Such experiences can be, for example, the loss of a loved one.
It is a syndrome that is not yet known much, but a paper published in the European Heart Journal suggests that the way in which our brain reacts to stress may be the key.
The pain of a heart attack
The broken heart syndrome is also known as the ” takotsubo syndrome ” because of the similarity of the heart shape of people with this condition with the Japanese pot of the same name.
This syndrome can be triggered by shock and, although it is different from a heart attack, it does share certain symptoms such as chest pain and difficulty breathing.
Generally, its trigger is a sad experience. But there are other events that involve many emotions that may also be related.
Some examples may be holding a wedding or starting a new job.
Some people with the syndrome are not able to identify what specific event triggered the pain, which refers to the days, weeks or months.
But in some cases, however, it can lead to death.
The exact cause of this condition is unknown, but experts believe it may be related to high levels of stress-related hormones such as adrenaline.
Dr. Jelena Ghadri and her colleagues at the University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, studied what was happening in the brains of 15 patients with broken heart syndrome.
What they observed were remarkable differences compared to the results obtained from the 39 healthy patients in the control group.
Among patients with broken heart syndrome they saw that there was less communication between the regions of the brain involved in the control of emotions and unconscious and automatic body responses, such as heartbeats.
It is believed that these are the areas of the brain that also control the way we respond to stress.
“Emotions are processed in the brain, so it is possible that the disease originates right there and affects the heart,” says Ghadri.
Of course, the connection that explains this type of cause and effect between the two organs is still not perfectly understood and scientists say that more research is necessary.
Understanding an enigma
Joel Rose, executive director of Cardiomyopathy UK, an association for people with heart problems in the UK, said the results of the research will serve to understand ” a form of cardiomyopathy that is often overlooked and remains an enigma.”
“People with takotsubo that we help will certainly appreciate this new effort to understand the role played by the brain in this condition and why people are more susceptible than others,” he said.
“We hope that this research will lead to greater focus in this area and greater collaboration between neuroscientists and cardiologists.”