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Can you die of a broken heart? The answer is yes!

The day after actress and writer Carrie Fisher died suddenly of a heart attack, her mother, Debbie Reynolds, passed away. Her son said the death of Fisher was just too much for his mother to bear, and she died of a broken heart.

Broken heart syndrome, or stress cardiomyopathy, is a real medical condition. Extreme emotional stress and sadness can cause sudden and severe heart muscle weakness. It seems that adrenaline and other hormones temporarily stun heart cells. Now, a new study by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic suggests that broken heart syndrome has become more prevalent in recent months due to the pandemic.

Their study, published in JAMA Network Open, involved 258 patients who came into the clinic system between March 1 and April 30 presenting with acute coronary symptoms. This group of folks was compared with several prepandemic control groups. The percentage of people diagnosed with stress cardiomyopathy in the pandemic-effected group was 7.8% compared with around 1.7% of the prepandemic people.

There's a lot of heartbreak right now, including illness and death of loved ones, employment and financial losses, and the complications of daily life. So, if you have symptoms of broken heart syndrome, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, heart palpitation and low blood pressure, seek medical help right away. Don't let fear of the virus keep you from getting life-saving care. With prompt intervention and medication, the vast majority of folks can recover from stress cardiomyopathy within a few weeks.

(Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Mike Roizen)

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