The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on people's hearts, whether infected with COVID-19 or not.
The condition goes by several names, including stress cardiomyopathy or takotsubo syndrome. This happens when a part of the heart becomes enlarged and is not able to pump blood effectively. Unlike a heart attack, broken heart syndrome is caused by physical or emotional stress, not clogges arteries.
"The increase in socioeconomic and psychological stress from the pandemic has literally increased stress cardiomyopathy," Dr. Ankur Kalra, one of the study's co-authors and an interventional cardiologist in the section of Invasive and Interventional Cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, said.
The study consisted of researchers looking at the medical records of 1,914 patients at two hospitals in the Cleveland Clinic health system from five eight-week periods. These periods occurred before the pandemic and during the pandemic. Before the pandemic, there were five to 12 cases in eight weeks. During the COVID-19 crisis, the number rose to 20.
“This is a new health hazard which the pandemic has caused because of other stressors that the pandemic has caused," the study's co-author, Dr. Ankur Kalra. said.
"Certainly, this pandemic is a big reason for emotional stress," added Dr. Harmony Reynolds, director of the Sarah Ross Soter Center for Women's Cardiovascular Research at NYU Langone Health.
The syndrome's symptoms can be similar to a heart attack, including shortness of breath and chest pain. Both of these symptoms can also be warning signs of COVID-19.
According to the Mayo Clinic, broken heart syndrome is treatable and most people recover within 60 days.
Medical experts advise individuals to seek help if they feel ill.
“When you think you need to seek care, you should seek care,” Kalra said. “You should not brush it under the carpet just because there's a pandemic happening.”