A Healthy You: Can COVID-19 break your heart?

A Healthy You

(WEHT) – Stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on our bodies, and we’re certainly seeing the impact during the age of COVID-19.

But can emotional stress lead to a broken heart? One small study says it can.

Many of the things we look forward to or rely on in our daily lives have been canceled or closed this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications spiked this spring, and antidepressants like Zoloft have been added to the FDA’s list of drugs experiencing shortages.

A small study from the Cleveland Clinic found patients at two Ohio hospitals, who didn’t have coronavirus, were two times more likely to have broken heart syndrome than before the pandemic.

Broken heart syndrome, or Takotsubo Syndrome, occurs when the heart muscles weaken, leading to chest pain and shortness of breath. It presents like a heart attack and believed to be brought on by high levels of physical or emotional stress. While it can be deadly, most patients recover within days or weeks.

Researchers say the increase during this time was likely connected to the quarantine, lack of social interaction, strict physical distancing, and the economic impact of the pandemic.

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(This story was originally published on July 15, 2020)

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