Maybe you have been wondering why some happy parents have a sudden cardiac arrest at their daughters’ weddings. A new study claims to have the answer– it is called the happy heart syndrome, or the Takotsubo syndrome (TTS).
Although the condition is only temporary, it is so devastating that it can trigger a cardiac arrest and even death. Researchers explained that because for some brief moments the syndrome weakens cardiac muscles, the heart’s left ventricle swallows excessively while the neck stiffens. The extra pressure, thus, may cause a life-threatening cardiac event especially in older people.
Nevertheless, the condition, which is commonly known as the “broken heart syndrome,” is relatively rare, and it was first documented in 1990. Back then, researchers concluded that the syndrome is triggered by intense emotional pain, fear, or anger. Most patients reported loss of breath and chest pain.
But a recent study published in the European Heart Journal has tied the syndrome to moments of pure happiness. So, researchers at University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland ‘rebranded’ the condition as the “happy heart syndrome”.
The latest study involved more than 1,700 participants. About 485 reported that they developed the syndrome because of an emotional trigger. About 20 of these patients said that their trigger was a happy event such as a surprise party, a wedding, a favorite sports team or athlete winning a game, or the birth of a grandkid.
Yet, most patients that developed the syndrome had undergone a stressful event first such as a funeral, an accident, a cancer diagnosis, or relationship fiasco. Ninety-five percent of happy heart and broken heart patients were females with the median age of 65, respectively 71, researchers reported.
The research team underlined that the most confirmed cases of TTS happen after menopause. Dr. Jelena Ghadri, lead author of the study and researcher with the University Hospital Zurich, noted that the new findings clearly show that positive emotions could be triggers to TTS episodes.
“[…] happy and sad life events may share similar emotional pathways that can ultimately cause TTS,”
Dr. Ghadri noted.
The new findings are in line with a 2012 study conducted by a team of researchers at the University Clinic of Rostock in Germany. German researchers had found that extreme happiness or sadness can trigger so many stress hormones such as adrenaline that it can cut blood supply to the heart. That study had also concluded that extreme happiness could literally kill you.
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