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Stress and the Heart ~ [Issue 0406-3]  Wellness Weekly
 Apr 22, 2006 23:31 PDT 


Learning of an unexpected death or other shocking news can weaken the
heart muscle, mimicking a heart attack, researchers say. The
scientists at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, have
found sudden emotional stress can result in severe but reversible
heart muscle weakness, a condition formally known as stress
cardiomyopathy and informally called "broken heart syndrome." These
patients often are misdiagnosed with a massive heart attack when they
in fact are suffering from a prolonged surge in adrenalin
(epinephrine) and other stress hormones that temporarily "stun" the
heart, says lead study author Dr. Ilan Wittstein. His study should
help doctors tell stress cardiomyopathy from heart attacks and
reassure patients they have not had permanent heart damage, Wittstein
says. The study was published in the online issue of "The New England
Journal of Medicine."
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