The more we learn about women’s hearts, the more we realize that they are different from men’s. One of the most dramatic differences is a rare heart condition called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or broken-heart syndrome, that is nine times more common in women than in men. It has been cited as evidence that sudden emotional stress can actually cause death in some women.
Like a heart attack, takotsubo cardiomyopathy strikes suddenly with symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath; however, it does not involve clogged arteries. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is brought on by a surge of stress hormones that literally bend the heart out of shape. As a result, when the main pumping chamber of the heart (the left ventricle) contracts, it balloons out, so it can’t eject blood into the arteries effectively.
A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in September 2015 reports the work of an international collaboration of physicians from the United States and Europe who studied 1,750 patients with takotsubo cardiomyopathy. In this study, as in earlier reports, 90% of these cases occurred in postmenopausal women. The most common triggers of takotsubo cardiomyopathy were physical conditions, such as lung problems or infections. The next most common trigger was emotional shock due to grief, panic, or a conflict with another person. Patients with takotsubo cardiomyopathy were almost twice as likely to have a neurological or psychiatric disorder compared with patients who had other heart conditions.
Takutsubo cardiomyopathy is an extreme example that illustrates a general truth, according to Dr. Thomas H. Lee, a cardiologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “There is no question that there is a strong connection between the head and the heart,” he says. Stress and the negative emotions it kindles—such as anxiety, anger, and sadness—have long been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
How emotions affect our hearts
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Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren
I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws. Psalm 119:7 NIV
Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. Psalm 119:2 NIV
Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Mark 11:23 NIV
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14 NIV
But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. Joshua 22:5 NIV
Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. Psalm 119:111 NIV
Your beauty should not come from outward adornments, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4 NIV
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23 NIV
As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. Proverbs 27:19 NIV
May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. Psalm 20:4 NIV
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” Jeremiah 17:9-10 NIV
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 NIV
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