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New study finds being happy can break your heart

03/03/2016

A new study from Switzerland suggests that chest pains and breathlessness caused by emotional stress do not only occur as a result of being angry, fearful or grief stricken and also happen when we are happy. It's a discovery that has led many to question the "broken heart syndrome" moniker that is often associated with takotsubo cardiomyopathy.

Characterised by shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, takotsubo cardiomyopathy occurs when the heart's left ventricle changes shape and can sometimes be fatal. The Swiss research, which was conducted by the University Hospital Zurich, found that while three-quarters of cases are caused by stress, around one in 20 is caused by joy.

Luckily, the condition is normally only temporary and people tend to be generally fine afterwards.

The study of 1,750 individuals found that takotsubo cardiomyopathy was caused by an array of different occasions, including a birthday party; a son's wedding; becoming a grandmother; meeting a friend after 50 years and winning a casino jackpot.

Dr Jelena Ghadri, who was involved in the study, said: "We have shown that the triggers for takotsubo syndrome can be more varied than previously thought.

"A takotsubo syndrome patient is no longer the classic 'broken-hearted' patient, and the disease can be preceded by positive emotions too."

Don't worry too much though. The medical director of the British Heart Foundation, Prof Peter Weissberg, said: "Takotsubo syndrome is a rare event" and in only a very few cases is it triggered by a sudden happiness.
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