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[HEARTFELT] “Broken heart” syndrome rising among older women

Researchers have discovered two alarming trends in Takotsubo cardiomyopathy -- also known as 'broken heart' syndrome -- a condition that is often triggered by stress or loss and can lead to long-term heart injury and impaired heart function. Their study suggests that women ages 55-75 are being diagnosed with the syndrome up to 10 times more often than younger women or men of any age.

The research also suggests that the rare condition has become more common, and the incidence has been rising steadily since well before the COVID-19 pandemic. “This study further validates the vital role the heart-brain connection plays in overall health, especially for women," said senior author Susan Cheng, MD, MPH, MMSc, director of the Institute for Research on Healthy Aging in at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Smidt Heart Institute

Dr. Cheng and colleagues analyzed national hospital data collected from more than 135,000 women and men who were diagnosed with Takotsubo syndrome between 2006 and 2017. While confirming that women are diagnosed more frequently than men, the results also revealed that diagnoses have been increasing at least six to 10 times more rapidly for women ages 50 to 74 than for any other demographic.

The way the brain and nervous system respond to different types of stressors changes as women age. according to Cheng. "There is likely a tipping point, just beyond midlife, where an excess response to stress can impact the heart. Women in this situation are at especially affected, and the risk seems to be increasing. The upswing could be due to changes in susceptibility, the environment, or both. More work is needed to unravel the underlying disease drivers."

To read the study, click here


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