You Can Die of a Broken Heart

Falling in love is one of the best feelings in the world, but having your heart broken is one of the worst. But can you die of a broken heart?

00:02
Falling in love is one of the best feelings in the world.
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But having your heart broken is one of the worst.
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In fact…
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What?!
00:20
So how exactly can something as good as falling in love
00:22
lead to DEATH?
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It’s because of a disease called Broken Heart Syndrome.
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Broken Heart Syndrome affects at least 3,000 people a year in the UK.
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Doctors first discovered it in Japan in 1990.
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Some of their patients looked like they’d had a heart attack,
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but they were missing the blood clots you get
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with an actual heart attack.
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Instead, they’d often develop symptoms
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after a big emotional stress, like someone dying or a divorce.
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So what actually happens to your heart during a relationship?
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There are three stages of love –
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Lust, attraction, and attachment.
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At each stage, a different group of powerful hormones
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gets to work on your body and your heart.
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At the beginning of your relationship,
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you’re full of the neurotransmitters oestrogen and testosterone.
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Together they power up your libido and draw you to your partner.
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Next, your body releases dopamine and norepinephrine –
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a form of adrenaline taking you from lust to attraction.
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This adrenaline rush makes your heart race,
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while the dopamine activates the reward centre in your brain,
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leaving you giddy and excited.
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You’re amazing. No…YOU’RE the best.
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SHE GROWLS
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I’m the best. Yeah.
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Fun fact – dopamine triggers the same area of the brain as cocaine.
01:36
Lastly, you enter a stage of long-term planning and commitment
01:40
together, with the help of oxytocin and vasopressin.
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Oxytocin, the cuddle hormone,
01:44
triggers a chain of reactions that slows your heart rate.
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PROLONGED FLATULENCE Released during orgasm, it’s thought
01:50
to bring couples closer together.
01:52
Meanwhile, vasopressin is thought to prevent wandering eyes,
01:55
like it does in prairie voles.
01:57
But what happens when the good stuff ends?
01:59
When the one you love leaves,
02:00
the supply of feel-good hormones plunges.
02:03
And, instead, your body floods with the stress hormones
02:05
like cortisol and adrenaline.
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Scientists think it could be this surge of stress hormones
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that temporarily damages your heart,
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possibly by making its arteries too narrow.
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That’s why you can get Broken Heart Syndrome
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from a wide variety of stressful experiences – good and bad.
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In fact, about 1 in 25 incidences of Broken Heart Syndrome
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are caused by happy stress, like winning the lottery.
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When you have Broken Heart Syndrome, your heart changes rhythm
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and your blood contains proteins it shouldn’t,
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exactly like with an actual heart attack.
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But, unlike an actual heart attack,
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there’s no sign of your arteries being blocked.
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Instead, the left ventricle – one of the four chambers in the heart –
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temporarily weakens and enlarges.
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This means that the heart doesn’t pump blood to the rest of the body
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as well as it should.
02:48
The scientific name for Broken Heart Syndrome is…
02:52
It’s called this because the heart warps into the shape of a takotsubo,
02:56
a Japanese fishing pot specially designed to catch octopuses.
03:00
Once you have Broken Heart Syndrome,
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the arteries which feed oxygen to your heart muscle can spasm,
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momentarily freezing your heart
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and resulting in short-term heart failure.
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And even if you recover after your first diagnosis,
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researchers at the University of Aberdeen
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found that Broken Heart Syndrome reduces your heart’s elasticity,
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so you’re more likely to develop deadly heart failure in the future.
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So what can you do to avoid Broken Heart Syndrome?
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Is it time to give up on love forever?
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There’s no cure for the damage caused by Broken Heart Syndrome.
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Great!
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But if it’s treated properly, most people recover in under a month.
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If you look after your heart, you can keep it stronger for longer.
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They could be through stopping smoking, staying in shape,
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or finding a healthy way to manage stress.
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Meanwhile, the University of Aberdeen team are exploring ways
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to help people through physical activity
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or psychological interventions. CHEERING
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So there you have it.
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Dying of a broken heart – it’s real.

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