A small study from researchers at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio suggests that the stress from the pandemic may be triggering a rise in “broken heart syndrome.” The syndrome is also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy or Takotsubo syndrome, and happens when the muscles of the heart constrict causing symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath.
According to CNN, the symptoms resemble those of a heart attack but broken heart syndrome is induced by stress, not blockages in blood vessels. It’s rarely fatal and most patients recover in a short time.
The researchers found that there was a “significant incidence of stress cardiomyopathy during the COVID-19 pandemic when compared to pre-pandemic periods.” They published their findings Thursday in JAMA Network Open, a medical journal, adding that the physical, social and economic stressors of the pandemic were taking their toll on our hearts.
“The pandemic has created a parallel environment which is not healthy,” said lead researcher Dr. Ankur Kalra, according to CNN. He added that emotional distancing is not healthy nor is the economic impact of the disease. “Our study says that stress cardiomyopathy has gone up because of the stress that the pandemic has created.”
Both the United Nations and the World Health Organization have warned about the mental health impact on people due to the pandemic.
The Cleveland Clinic researchers said that none of the patients they studied had COVID-19 and all tested negative.
“Our work provides credence to the other health hazards that the pandemic has created,” said Kalra, according to CNN.
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