Broken Heart Syndrome Affects Only Women? Can Lead to Death

Is it possible to die from a broken heart syndrome? While Valentines Days may be a celebration for lovers, what about those without a significant other to share the day with?

Broken heart syndrome is in fact a real disease and it is possible that you can die from it. The condition is brought on by extreme stress, typically following the death of a loved one or particularly harmful breakup. The stress, either emotional or physical, results in "rapid and severe heart muscle weakness," according to Hopkins Medicine.

"This condition can occur following a variety of emotional stressors such as grief, fear, extreme anger, and surprise," the organization's website explained. "It can also occur following numerous physical stressors to the body such as stroke, seizure, difficulty breathing (such as a flare of asthma or emphysema), or significant bleeding."

The condition, however, does not effect everyone and can be easily and quickly mediated. Most cases do not occur amongst men and young women and "the vast majority of the patients we have seen with this are post-menopausal women," Hopkins said.

Symptoms for a broken heart are similar to those of a heart attack although broken heart syndrome, or stress cardiomyopathy, is not the same thing as having a heart attack. Patients typically experience chest pain, shortness of breath, congestive heart failure, and low blood pressure.

"I started having this heavy sensation just pushing down on my chest," Sylvia Creamer, 73, of Walkersville, Md. told the Washington Post in 2005. Her symptoms were during a conversation about her son, who had suffered from a mental illness.

It is unclear why the condition affects mostly older women although experts have suggested that it may have something to do with the fact that women react differently to stress than men.