By Sean Jackson
On July 17th, recent international research released by the Journal of the American Heart Association shows evidence that one in six people with so-called ‘broken heart syndrome’ had cancer. The patients were also less likely to survive for five years after the occurrence, the open access journal indicated.
While a broken heart may sound like an emotional response directly related to the separating of the individual from a loved one, there is a direct physiological reaction that happens in the body. Broken heart syndrome also goes by the name takotsubo syndrome, and creates the condition where the main pumping chamber of the heart enlarges after emotional or physical stress. While the pains could potentially feel like a heart attack, there is no actual heart muscle damage or blockage attributed to it.
The study indicates that of the 1,604 patients with broken heart syndrome, that 267 of the patients, or one in six, had malignant breast cancer, tumors affecting the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, internal sex organs, or other areas. The physical and emotional stress was evident in the study, indicating that from twenty-six centers there is a very strong correlation between the syndrome and cancer.
Dr. Christian Templin, a senior author of the study and director of Interventional Cardiology at Andreas Gruntzig Heart Catheterization Laboratories in Zurich, Switzerland indicated, “ Patients with broken heart syndrome might benefit if screened for cancer to improve their overall survival. Our study also should raise awareness among oncologists and hematologists that broken heart syndrome should be considered in patients undergoing cancer diagnosis or treatment who experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or abnormalities in their electrocardiogram.”
Broken heart syndrome can vary in its degrees of intensity, with the most intense love-crazed components lasting for sometimes for decades. Total infatuation is known in the psychological community as limerence, which involves an incessant state of compulsory longing for another person.
Dr. Albert Wakin, a leading expert on limerence and Professor of Psychology at Sacred Heart University outlines that limerence, although not recognized in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, or DSM-5, has even encountered individuals suffering from love infatuation for close to sixty years.
There are several parallels between limerence and other well-known disorders, such as obsessive compulsive disorder, as well as substance abuse, and there are many cases where there are comorbid combinations of them.
While doctors are still attempting to make the correlation more definite between cancer and broken hearts, there is still a way to go in terms of recognizing whether or not correlation actually means causation.