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Cleveland Clinic: Pandemic is causing more cases of 'Broken Heart Syndrome'

Broken Heart Syndrome looks and feels like a heart attack and can be dangerous.

CLEVELAND — The COVID-19 pandemic is leading to a lot of "broken hearts."

Cleveland Clinic researchers looked at hospital data from more than 1,900 patients during the first two months of the pandemic. They found an increase in stress cardiomyopathy, known as Broken Heart Syndrome. It's often brought on by overwhelming, stressful situations. 

Broken Heart Syndrome looks and feels like a heart attack and can be dangerous. Symptoms include irregular heartbeat, fainting, low blood pressure and cardiogenic shock (an inability of the heart to pump enough blood to meet the body’s demands due to the impact of stress hormones on the cells of the heart).

During March and April, cases were eight percent higher than in the two previous years. What's more, researchers say it's younger people often at risk. 

"In our study, the average age of the patient tended to be younger," said Dr. Grant Reed. "I've personally treated patients in their 30s with this problem, but I've also treated patients in their 70s and 80s and older."

None of the patients diagnosed with stress cardiomyopathy tested positive for COVID-19. 

For the study, cardiologists looked at 258 patients coming into ClevelandClinic and Cleveland Clinic Akron General with heart symptoms known as acute coronary syndrome (ACS) between March 1 and April 30th and compared them with four control groups of ACS patients prior to the pandemic.  

Patients with stress cardiomyopathy during the COVID-19 pandemic had a longer length of hospital stay compared with those hospitalized in the pre-pandemic period; however, there was no significant difference in mortality between the groups.  

You can see the full interview with Dr. Reed in the player below.

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