Mason City cardiologist says having a “broken heart” can be a real thing

MASON CITY — With Valentine’s Day around the corner, everybody can be familiar with having a “broken heart”, but extreme stress and emotional situations can cause a condition known as broken heart syndrome. It impacts the bottom left chamber of the heart, temporarily disrupting the heart’s usual pumping function to the rest of the body.

MercyOne North Iowa cardiologist Dr. Sepideh Darbandi says broken heart syndrome can mimic someone having a heart attack.  “The symptoms typically can include chest pain, shortness of breath, at certain times passing out. Some people feel like their heart is racing very fast, and unless medical attention is sought and basically medical professionals investigate into it, there’s no way we’ll be able to tell someone at home that’s having these symptoms whether it’s a heart attack or something like this broken heart syndrome.”

Darbandi says typically broken heart syndrome is temporary, but in some severe cases, patients may pass out.  “Generally it is a temporary measure. Sometimes if it is due to a specific stressor that has caused the heart to be in that situation in the first place, if that stressor is relieved and taken care of, typically it’s temporary, however unfortunately, patients that go through this are at-risk for this happening again. The mortality from it can be low or high depending on when medical attention is sought.”

Darbandi says it is important to pay attention to your body.  “I do want to point out that this syndrome is more common in women than it is in men. People that have had a history of heart disease or actually people that suffer from some mental health condition such as anxiety or depression, unfortunately they are at higher risk of this broken heart syndrome. The key point I want to mention is seeking medical attention with these symptoms can really be lifesaving.”

This is American Heart Month, and you can find out how healthy your own heart is by clicking on this link and taking the MercyOne heart health assessment quiz