“Broken heart syndrome,” used to describe a group of symptoms that present themselves similarly to a heart attack, has increased during the coronavirus pandemic in at least two Ohio hospitals, according to a Cleveland Clinic study.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, “broken heart syndrome” — also referred to as Takotusubo cardiomyopathy and stress-induced cardiomyopathy — describes a “group of symptoms similar to those of a heart attack, occurring in response to a physical or emotional stress.” Symptoms can include chest pain and shortness of breath — neither of which, in the case of “broken heart syndrome,” are caused by blocked coronary arteries.
Researchers found that “broken heart syndrome” has increased during the pandemic and concluded that it was likely linked to stressors related to the virus. The pandemic spurred mass lockdowns, resulting in extended isolation and economic downturn, thereby invoking feelings of “psychological, social, and economic stress”:
Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic studied patients at two hospitals with heart trouble who were treated this spring, and compared them to patients with similar issues over the past two years. Patients during the pandemic were two times likelier to have broken heart syndrome, according to the study, which was published in the medical journal JAMA Network Open.
The study looked at 1,914 patients from five distinct two-month periods, including a sample of more than 250 patients hospitalized in March and April, during the early peak of the pandemic. The study concluded that the increase was likely connected to the “psychological, social, and economic stress” caused by the pandemic, which includes “imposed quarantine, lack of social interaction, strict physical distancing rules, and its economic consequences in people’s lives.”
The new research did not examine whether there was any connection between broken heart syndrome and the stress of having coronavirus, or watching a relative suffer from the disease. The patients in the study were tested for Covid-19 and none of their tests came back positive.
Dr. Ankur Kalra, a cardiologist involved in the study, said the pandemic “has created a parallel environment which is not healthy.”
“Emotional distancing is not healthy. The economic impact is not healthy,” Kalra said. “We’ve seen that as an increase in non-coronavirus deaths, and our study says that stress cardiomyopathy has gone up because of the stress that the pandemic has created.”
The bulk of coronavirus coverage has focused on the number of cases and fatalities caused by the virus itself, but studies suggest that there have also been serious effects on mental health.
As Breitbart News reported:
A study published at JAMA Psychiatry in April noted that while social distancing practices have helped to “fundamentally reduce human contact” and, as a result, the spread of the coronavirus, “the potential for adverse outcomes on suicide risk is high” as a secondary consequence of lockdowns and other avoidance policies that ultimately produce greater social isolation.
Researchers Mark Reger, Ph.D., and associates urged consideration of how the economic and emotional risk factors that accompany social distancing practices have an impact on those vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and even suicide risk.
The authors pointed out that economic recessions generally yield higher rates of suicide whenever they occur. The state, business, and school closures associated with the coronavirus, however, coupled with significant stock market losses, may all be contributing to a “perfect storm” that proves to be associated with higher rates of suicide in the United States in the future.
The U.S. has reported over three million confirmed cases of the virus and over 132,800 related deaths.