Broken Heart: More Than Just A Figure Of Speech

English: Broken Heart symbol

I submitted this article last February 2013 in Ezinearticles website. After days of being subjected to screening, the article went live last February 14, which, coincidentally, was Valentine’s Day. Ironic how a topic about broken hearts should be published on the Love Day! It was my intention to publish an article, but never my intention to have it published on the Day of Hearts. As the topic about heartaches and broken hearts had been swirling inside my head for years, I finally decided to write an article about it. Let me share this article for all who, like me, had been wondering what exactly causes broken hearts.


I am heartbroken.

Why do you have to break my heart?

These are heartbreak lines most often quoted along with tears streaming down from the eyes, manifestations of the pain. All too often, such lines can be heard from people who had experienced painful situations some time in their lives. Because these situations are too familiar, you get the picture: in movies, TV series, books, journals, diaries, or even in an ordinary setting. Here are some of the most common situations wherein heartaches and broken hearts will develop:

• Heartaches and broken hearts can be felt in an unrequited love, or when one feels great regret for not being able to confess the love that he or she should have done, finding out that everything has been too late.

• When a best friend “steals away” a crush, the wronged will feel betrayed, and will manifest extreme jealousy and hatred.

• A stressful breakup or divorce can also result to broken hearts because the couple have already invested emotionally on each other.

• The death of a beloved member in the family can also result to an intensive broken heart.

People often depict a broken heart by a heart-shaped figure that is sliced into two, with the ubiquitous irregular jagged lines present. The heart pieces can either be stuck in place but with the zigzag lines, or broken into half like the way you break a cupcake in half. Because of the pain brought about by such situations, someone who is most affected will manifest pain in his chest like his heart is literally breaking. This is how a figure of speech, the “broken heart,” has been made easy to understand. However, a broken heart is more than just a figure of speech.

The anatomy and the physiology of the cardiovascular system are discussed in the Biology subject, but an in-depth exploration is being done in medical school. Theories are tackled in the lecture halls, while these theories are applied in the clinical setting. Medical students often encounter cardiovascular and myocardial conditions such as the coronary artery disease, pericarditis, congestive heart failure, myocardial infarction, and rheumatic heart disease. It is a fact, however, that students should still go out on their own to do research and find things for themselves instead of relying solely on the lectures of the professors, who do not spoon-feed everything. Inquisitiveness is the first step to learning, and one who is curious about the origin of heartaches and broken hearts will discover an interesting fact.

What an ordinary person knows of as a “broken heart” is termed in the medical circle as stress cardiomyopathy. The condition is also known in any other terms as stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubu cardiomyopathy. In this heart condition, severe emotional stress renders the heart muscles weak without losing blood and oxygen supply to the cardiac tissues.

The cause of stress cardiomyopathy has been unclear to the experts, though certain theories such as the peculiar reaction of the heart muscles to catecholamines, temporary blood vessel spasms, wrapping of the left anterior descending artery (LAD) around the heart apex, or mid-ventricular wall thickening with blood occlusion were the most common. How the heart condition earned the Japanese nickname “tako tsubu” has been derived from the bulging of the left ventricular apex in the absence of the stiffening of the coronary artery. The look of the ballooned heart, in effect, mirrors that of an octopus trap.

The diagnosis of stress cardiomyopathy will result from the signs, symptoms, and diagnostic findings such as:

• Severe pain in the chest that resembles that of a heart attack

• Dyspnea or difficulty in breathing

• Absence of a history of coronary artery disease

• Significant levels of myocardial enzymes

• ECG findings that is parallel to that of myocardial infarction such as a long QT interval, inverted T wave, and an elevated ST segment

People say that time heals a broken heart, but so does aspirin. Physicians resort to treatment such as giving of aspirin and cardiac medications to remedy the condition. Treatment will also include supportive measures to make the heart better. Once the person’s condition takes on an improvement, balanced diet and stress management are tackled next to make sure that the person can handle the situation. Typically, stress cardiomyopathy can resolve itself within a week to a month. The patient has to be truthful about an unresolved chest pain, however, because an underlying cardiac condition must have persisted even before the occurrence of the stressful event.

A broken heart is a figure of speech carelessly thrown around in painful love stories, but it is as real as the cupcake that you are breaking in two. If your friend had just undergone a crisis, like a painful breakup with a boyfriend, do not disregard if she exhibits symptoms of extreme chest pains and difficulty in breathing. Aid her in seeking medical help.

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© 2013, Filipino Nurses. All rights reserved. DISCLAIMER: The accuracy of all articles contained in this website are the responsibility of their respective authors. All articles are for informational purposes only and are NOT intended to replace the advice of a doctor. The owner of this site disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on these information. If you have any health-related questions, please consult your physician. If you feel ill, please seek medical attention immediately.

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