The Heartbreaking Truth: How Heartbreak Impacts Your Cardiac Health

Break up And Loss

Heartbreak and Cardiac Health: Why We Need to Take Care of Our Hearts

Heartbreak can feel like the end of the world. The pain, anxiety, and depression that come with a broken heart can be overwhelming. You might feel like you can’t eat or sleep, that you’re constantly on edge, or that you’re never going to get over it. But did you know that heartbreak can actually have physical consequences on your heart health?

In this article, we’re going to explore the link between heartbreak and cardiac health, and what you can do to take care of your heart during difficult times.

Physiology of Broken Heart Syndrome

1. Brain Chemistry and the Reward Center

When we’re in love, our brains release chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin that make us feel happy and motivated. The brain’s Caudate Nucleus, also known as the “reward center,” is activated, which reinforces our desire to seek out the person we’re in love with.

2. The Impact of Heartbreak

But when we experience heartbreak, the opposite happens. Our brain’s reward center is no longer stimulated, and instead, we can feel depressed, anxious, and unmotivated.

3. Broken Heart Syndrome: Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy

In some cases, this can lead to a condition known as Broken Heart Syndrome, or Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy. Broken Heart Syndrome is a temporary condition that mimics the symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pain and shortness of breath.

It’s caused by a surge of stress hormones like cortisol, which can trigger a sympathetic state, also known as the “fight or flight” response. This can cause the left ventricle of the heart to weaken and enlarge, leading to symptoms that can be mistaken for a heart attack.

Fortunately, most people recover fully from Broken Heart Syndrome within a few weeks to months.

Trauma of Heartbreak

1. Emotional and Physical Pain

Heartbreak can be deeply traumatic, both emotionally and physically. When we feel heartbroken, our bodies can react as if we’re experiencing physical pain.

2. Physical Manifestations of Stress

This can manifest as a racing heart, tightness in the chest, or a sense of dread or anxiety. These symptoms are caused by a heightened stress response, which can lead to increased levels of cortisol in the body.

3. Long-Term Health Implications

Over time, this can take a toll on our physical health, including our heart health.

Causes of Broken Heart Syndrome

  • Underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or previous heart disease
  • Intense emotional stress, such as the loss of a loved one
  • A history of adverse childhood experiences, such as abuse, neglect, or trauma

Symptoms of Broken Heart Syndrome can include chest pain or tightness, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, or fainting. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.

Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences

1. Definition of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, are traumatic events or experiences that occur during childhood. These can include things like abuse, neglect, or exposure to violence or substance abuse.

2. Impact of ACEs on Stress Response

Research has shown that individuals who experience ACEs are more likely to have a heightened stress response, which can make it harder to cope with stress later in life. When we experience heartbreak as adults, the pain and intensity of those emotions can feel overwhelming.

3. Seeking Support

If you have a history of trauma or unresolved issues, it’s important to seek out the support of a mental health professional to help you work through those emotions.

Dealing with Heartbreak

1. Importance of Grief

Grief is a natural and necessary process that helps us make sense of loss. It can be tempting to try to avoid or numb our emotions with alcohol, substance abuse, or hookups, but in the long run, these strategies are unlikely to provide lasting relief.

It’s important to allow yourself to feel the pain and sadness of heartbreak, even if it’s uncomfortable or unpleasant. Acknowledging these emotions can be a first step towards healing.

2. Acknowledging Emotions

Sitting with our uncomfortable emotions can be challenging, but it’s an important part of the healing process. Rather than pushing away or suppressing our emotions, we can try to observe them with curiosity and non-judgmental awareness.

Approaching our emotions with gentleness and compassion can help us move towards healing and wholeness.

3. Introspection

Heartbreak can be an opportunity to reflect on our unresolved issues and past traumas. This can be a painful and challenging process, but it can also be transformative in helping us let go of old patterns and move towards a more authentic and fulfilling life.

Seeking the support of a mental health professional can be a helpful step in this process.

4. Seeking Medical Attention

If you experience any physical symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. While Broken Heart Syndrome is usually a temporary condition, it’s important to rule out any underlying medical conditions that could be contributing to your symptoms.


Heartbreak can be difficult and painful, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. By taking care of yourself emotionally and physically, you can help support your heart health during difficult times.

Whether it’s through practicing mindfulness and self-compassion, seeking professional support, or making healthy lifestyle choices, there are many ways to cope with heartbreak and support your cardiac health. Remember to be gentle with yourself, and know that healing takes time.

In conclusion, heartbreak can have physical consequences on our cardiac health, particularly through the condition of Broken Heart Syndrome. This temporary condition is caused by a surge of stress hormones and can mimic the symptoms of a heart attack.

Heartbreak can also be deeply traumatic, causing physical pain and triggering a heightened stress response. Adverse Childhood Experiences can increase our risk of experiencing heartbreak as well as compromising our ability to cope with stress later in life.

However, there are a number of strategies that we can use to take care of our hearts during difficult times, including embracing grief, acknowledging our emotions, practicing introspection, and seeking medical attention when necessary. By focusing on our emotional and physical well-being, we can support our hearts through the challenges of heartbreak and emerge stronger on the other side.

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