Broken-Heart Syndrome Article by Reynolds

The current event article chosen for this discussion was published in the New York Times on March 19, 2019 and titled “Broken Heart Syndrome Is not All in the Head”. The article, written by Reynolds, revolves around the idea that the heart and the mind are linked. The author cited the study published in the European Heart Journal in an attempt to prove their claim. Those afflicted by broken-heart syndrome, as evidenced in the study, have brains that function differently from the healthy people. This, according to Reynolds (2019), is a clear indication that whatever happens in the head can affect the heart.

Another important point raised by the author is that the disorder is mainly associated with women, and affects how the nervous system manages stress. However, the process of stress management requires a combination of activities performed by sympathetic nervous system, parasympathetic system and the limbic system. It remains unclear whether a disruption in these systems could be linked to broken-heart syndrome. The study by a group of Swiss cardiologists, as highlighted in the article, failed to show a direct connection despite using a sample size of 44 volunteers (15 were had survived Takotsubo syndrome and the remaining 39 unaffected). While the scans showed a possibility of broken heart syndrome beginning in the brains, it is unclear whether stress changed the brains of the individuals with Takotsubo in ways that led to heart problems.

I tend to agree with the ideas presented in the article based on the fact that a traumatic emotional episode (which happens in the head) such as heart break could lead to a cardiac event. With the advent of electrocardiogram (ECG), modern doctors can easily find a link between the heart and the mind. ECG helps doctors identify irregularities in the heart, which affects its ability to pump blood to other parts of the body. Similarly, the connection between the heart and the mind can be seen through the symptoms displayed by those suffering from broken-heart syndrome. These symptoms include chest pain, palpitation and shortness of breath. All of these assigns are associated with the heart, but its original source is the mind.

It is also true that broken-heart syndrome affects mainly women. While the exact reason why the disorder is associated with this gender remains unclear, scholars link it to hormones. Most of them claim that men are more capable of managing stress better because they have a high number of adrenaline receptors in their hearts compared to women. Another possible reason is that women have less angiograms, stress tests and bypasses compared to men. Also, most of them are not taken seriously because their complaints are hardly linked to chest pain.

Something New That I Learned

The one thing that I learned from this article is that heartbreak is a stressful event, which leads to broken-heart syndrome. The disorder can be life threatening if it persists for long. Just like any other stressful event, the bodies of those who experience heartbreak produces adrenaline and noradrenaline hormones whose role is to help cope with stress. However, the problem comes in when the body produces large amount of adrenaline; the heart muscle can be overwhelmed. According to Kiuchi et al. (2019), excessive adrenaline decreases the amount of blood reaching the heart due to narrowing of the small arteries. In other instances, the adrenaline can cause large amount of calcium to enter the cells if it binds itself to the heart cells. The large amount of calcium in return interferes with the heart’s normal sinus rhythm.

The information I have acquired in this article will inform how I relate to my family and other relationships moving forward. First, in order to achieve a successful relationship with my partner and family, I will have to learn how to develop self-reflection and respect. With self-respect, I will be in a better position when it comes to handling rejection from family and partner. One of the strategies that I will use to avoid broken-heart syndrome is by finding some time to reflect by making self-reflection a routine habit. This will help guide me in building up calming techniques that I might require during stressful times (either with family or partner).

Additional information related to this topic

Broken-heart syndrome has been researched extensively by several scholars. The one thing I found interesting in the study by Hiestand et al. (2018) revolves around the idea that the disorder might originate from structural brain alterations. The authors focused their study on finding the structural differences of brains regions controlling the autonomic nervous system and other areas dealing with emotion regulation. They relied on a sample size of 59 women (20 of them with broken heart syndrome while the rest were healthy). Their findings showed that most of the activities were felt in insula, amygdala, cingulate cortex, and hippocampus, all of which were linked with controlling emotion and cognition.

Follow-up Research

Although broken-heart syndrome has been researched extensively, especially in the field of psychology, there are several issues that require additional research. For instance, one idea that requires further research is the issue that broken-heart syndrome occurs mainly during winter. Scholars should devote much of their time and resources to studying the epidemiology of the disease. The available information does not show why the most frequent occurrence of the disease is in the winter season.

References

Hiestand, T., Hänggi, J., Klein, C., Topka, M. S., Jaguszewski, M., Ghadri, J. R., & Templin, C. (2018). Takotsubo syndrome associated with structural brain alterations of the limbic system. Journal of the American College of Cardiology71(7), 809-811. Web.

Kiuchi, M. G., Nolde, J. M., Villacorta, H., Carnagarin, R., Chan, J. J. S. Y., Lugo-Gavidia, L. M., & Schlaich, M. P. (2019). New approaches in the management of sudden cardiac death in patients with heart failure—targeting the sympathetic nervous system. International Journal of Molecular Sciences20(10), 2430-2510.

Reynolds, G. (2019). Broken-heart syndrome is not all in the head. The New York Times. Web.

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