Ever heard of Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy? It sounds complicated, but in actuality, it’s simply the technical term for a broken heart. Broken Heart Syndrome is a real condition, brought on by sudden emotional or physical stress and mimicking a heart attack. Interestingly, it occurs almost exclusively in women.
In fact, Broken Heart Syndrome is most common in post menopausal women, with most reported cases in women aged 58-75. The syndrome is situational and temporary, resolving within a few weeks to a month.
The technical term for Broken Heart Syndrome, Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy, received its Japanese name because it refers to the left chamber of the heart, which changes shape due to this condition, resembling a Japanese pot known as a Tako-Tsubo pot used in Japanese fishing to catch octopus.
When the left ventricle experiences this sudden inflammation as a result of emotional or physical stress, it affects the heart’s ability to pump blood properly, resulting in chest pain, difficulty breathing, fatigue, heart palpitations and other symptoms that are associated with a cardiovascular event.
Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy may occur immediately after various circumstances---the loss of a loved one due to divorce or death, the loss of a pet, hearing bad news, grief, a traumatic event, such as a robbery. Even good news can cause Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy--any shock, such as finding out you’ve won the lottery may cause this left ventricular enlargement and affect cardiovascular blood flow.
The exact mechanism behind what causes the enlargement of the left ventricle isn’t clear, however, it is speculated that adrenaline and other stress-related hormones like cortisol may trigger coronary blood vessels and heart muscles into paralysis, which prevents the left ventricle from properly contracting.
Although symptoms generally dissipate within a month, residual damage to the heart may occur, causing complications such as arrhythmias and heart failure in 20% of patients. Most completely recover with no long-term damage.
Western medicine pharmaceuticals are usually prescribed for Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy to manage symptoms. These include medications for arrhythmia, depression and anxiety.
Natural herbs and supplements, however, can also help Broken Heart Syndrome. Even meditation and breath work has been found to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, manage irregular heartbeats and relax the body to promote quicker recovery.
Of course, if you are currently taking any pharmaceuticals, it’s always a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider before adding on herbal and supplement remedies.
Two herbs in particular, which may help Broken Heart Syndrome are hawthorn and lemon balm. Hawthorn provides excellent cardiovascular support, naturally strengthening the cardiovascular system and helping blood circulation. For the associated anxiety, mood swings and insomnia, lemon balm tea can provide additional support to the central nervous system.
Vitamins, minerals and supplements can also help support Broken Heart Syndrome, a major one being magnesium. A meta-analysis of 13 prospective studies in over 475,000 participants reported that the risk of total cardiovascular events, including stroke, nonfatal myocardial infarction, and CHD, was 15% lower in individuals with higher intakes of magnesium, so it’s important to keep magnesium levels in check.
The US RDA recommends 250-300 mg of magnesium daily for women; men need approximately 400 mg a day.
Low magnesium levels have been associated with atrial and ventricular arrhythmias, which could be indicative of a risk factor for sudden cardiac death (SCD).
Since magnesium is involved with transporting calcium and potassium into cells, it plays a huge role in nerve conduction and muscle contraction. Your heart is a muscle, and magnesium helps to ensure that heart muscles contract properly, regulating a normal heartbeat. Research shows that magnesium deficiency increases irregular heartbeats and may be one root cause of arrhythmia.
The Framingham heart study, published in January 2013, indicated that low levels of magnesium in the blood are associated with atrial fibrillation (afib), which is a an irregular malfunction in the heart's electrical system that causes the upper chambers of the heart to quiver. As mentioned, this is a common occurrence with Broken Heart Syndrome.
To support the adrenal glands, manage stress, balance hormones and help promote better sleep, our Just Relax can quiet the parasympathetic nervous system. Just Relax contains a blend of ingredients that support the body’s natural synthesis of catecholamines. Catecholamines are hormones made by your adrenal glands, which are located on top of your kidneys, and are mediated by the vagus nerve.
Our formulation also supports the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA and healthy glucose metabolism. As a convenient drink mix, Just Relax helps provide a peaceful, calm and relaxed state of body and mind which may help manage other aspects of Broken Heart Syndrome.
CoQ10 may also provide support for Broken Heart Syndrome since it fights oxidative damage by serving as an antioxidant that protects cells. CoQ10 is thought to help optimal levels of energy production, reduce oxidative damage and improve heart function, all important to managing Broken Heart Syndrome.
Multiple studies demonstrate its protective properties. A study of over 400 people with heart failure, for example, showed that CoQ10 supplementation for two years reduced mortality from heart-related issues.
Although healing from Broken Heart Syndrome physically takes about a month, the emotional scar of trauma will likely last longer. Be sure to give yourself the time needed to grieve, seek the support of others, eat well to live well. Providing your body with the nutrients it needs to innately heal itself as well as surrounding yourself with community, nature and positivity can improve overall outcomes.