According to researchers from The University of Aberdeen, heartbreak can lead to permanent scars and long-term damage.
Broken heart syndrome, also known as Takotsubo stress cardiomyopathy (TSM), was first identified in the early '90s in Japan. It has been linked to emotional stress caused by the trauma of losing a loved one.
The condition, which mostly affects women, causes the left ventricle of the heart to change shape due to a hormone rush. The result can create symptoms mimicking a heart attack including chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, and cold sweats since it affects the heart's ability to pump blood.
"We used to think that people who suffered from takotsubo cardiomyopathy would fully recover, without medical intervention," said the study's lead researcher, Dr. Dana Dawson. "Here we've shown that this disease has much longer lasting damaging effects on the hearts of those who suffer from it."
The study, which was funded by The British Heart Foundation, followed 52 TSM patients between the ages of 28 and 87 for four months. During that time the researchers noticed that the heart muscle in some patients remained abnormal for the entire time and for months afterwards.
"Worryingly, these patients' hearts appear to show a form of scarring, indicating that full recovery may take much longer, or indeed may not occur, with current care," said British Heart Foundation associate medical director Professor Metin Avkiran in a press release.
While there is no way to protect yourself from a broken heart, Rita Wilson, MPH, explains in Psychology Today that women can prevent the syndrome.
"A preventive approach might include coming to terms with the relationship," she suggests. Surrounding yourself with friends as you cope with your breakup as well as investigating the symptoms of depression and seeking professional help can reduce symptoms.