Is Dying from Broken Heart a Real Thing?

It was a sad day for Star Wars fans when Carrie Fisher passed recently.  Days following her death, her mother Debbie Reynolds whom is a legendary actress also passed away.  Miss Reynolds was 84 years old and many have speculated she died of a broken heart after her loss of her daughter Carrie.  Now is this a real ailment and could she really die from?

If you look at many old Romance novels in history books in the past there has been many tales of people dying of a broken heart but medically is this possible?  If we look at it from a scientific point of view, we need to look at it as stress.

Scientific Answer?

The human body is really resilient and can handle stress really well because we can’t escape stress in our everyday life.  Stress can be caused by many factors such as ink stuck in traffic, paying bills, meeting work deadlines and making sure kids get to school.  The list goes on.  The way our body responds to those stress levels is controlled by a hormone that regulates our bodily functions.  This stress hormone helps us gets through many types of stress especially the high level ones such as losing a loved one.

Now if you look closely at the broken heart issue, it can be very real.  This is considered a serious issue especially if the person grieving is not healthy in the first place or of an older age.  It can increase the intensity in that person if he or she is suffering from other issues especially involving health.  When an individual is under a lot of stress there is a huge release of adrenaline that affects the blood and heart vessels.  It is yet understood very well but the current theory is the surge of adrenaline can cause the muscles of the heart to enlarge.  This makes the heart very inefficient at pumping our blood’s through her vessels.  Because of this, it can cause symptoms similar of having chest pains, asthma and even a cardiovascular attack.

The so-called broken heart syndrome, individuals usually make a full recovery in a couple of weeks.  There has been documentation of patient is dying but this is really rare.  It is serious when the individual is over the age of 50 like in the case of Carrie Fisher’s mother, or has other health issues such as depression or anxiety.  Overall there isn’t really a solid answer but the key is to live a positive life, eat well and exercise!