HEART AND SOUL

When bro­ken heart is a mat­ter of life and death.

The Peak (Singapore) - - Fashion -

Adele shot to fame sing­ing songs about heart­breaks. The cyn­ics may think the sen­ti­ments are maudlin, but heart doc­tors know bet­ter. Ac­cord­ing to stud­ies, women are more likely to suf­fer from the “Bro­ken Heart Syn­drome”.

“Also known as Takot­subo’s Car­diomy­opa­thy, this typ­i­cally oc­curs in post-menopausal women who have ex­pe­ri­enced emo­tional stress, such as due to be­reave­ment or in­tense quar­rels,” shares Dr Ju­lian Tan, a heart spe­cial­ist at Mount El­iz­a­beth Med­i­cal Cen­tre.

Th­ese women could in fact have no block­ages or tears in their heart ar­ter­ies, yet could still be hit by a de­bil­i­tat­ing heart at­tack. “The cause of this is un­known, but it is pos­tu­lated to be due to the uc­tu­a­tion of stress hor­mones in the body,” says Dr Tan.

He also high­lights that while pre- menopausal women have less risk of heart at­tacks than their male coun­ter­parts, the risk is equal post-menopause.

The Bro­ken Heart Syn­dome is one of the two forms of heart at­tacks that are more com­mon in women. The other is Spon­ta­neous Coro­nary Dis­sec­tion which oc­curs – not in­fre­quently – in young women, usu­ally dur­ing or after preg­nancy. “The cause is the sud­den tear­ing of the wall of the heart ar­ter­ies,” de­tails Dr Tan. This causes block­age of the ves­sels, lead­ing to car­diac ar­rest.

Aside from con­trol­ling risk fac­tors like hy­per­ten­sion, high choles­terol, di­a­betes mel­li­tus, and lead­ing an ac­tive and healthy life­style, th­ese heart con­di­tions can­not be pre­vented. Dr Tan em­pha­sises that the im­por­tant thing is to seek im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion from an in­ter­ven­tional car­di­ol­o­gist when one sus­pects that some­thing is amiss.

“The in­di­ca­tors of a heart at­tack in women are less ob­vi­ous or typ­i­cal, such as a vague ‘ tummy up­set’, pal­pi­ta­tions, or feel­ings of gen­eral anx­i­ety,” ob­serves the in­ter­ven­tional car­di­ol­o­gist with close to two decades’ ex­pe­ri­ence. “That be­ing said, there are clearer and more ob­jec­tive in­di­ca­tors that the car­di­ol­o­gist can utilise (ECG, blood tests, clin­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion) to con rm the di­ag­no­sis of a heart at­tack.” And with that, suit­able treat­ment can be pre­scribed.

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