“All of our emotions connect to our body by setting off cascades of hormones like cortisol or adrenaline and this places quite a lot of stress on our hearts,” she tells Women’s Health. “Plus, we also see a process of inflammation, which is the body’s way trying to fight off disease. In a stressful situation - or if this happens chronically - this can be quite damaging.”
In some instances, this exposure to stress can result in a heart attack and can even be fatal.
“For example, with elderly couples who pass away within days or weeks of each other, it is possible that the stress response triggered by the death of their loved one has aggravated any disease or health issues they already had,” she explains.
This condition has a name: Takotsubo syndrome (aka, broken heart syndrome,) but fortunately, it’s extremely rare.
“We’re all going to be heartbroken at some time in our lives, but for the vast majority of us this won’t cause us to have a true physical broken heart or even die of a broken heart during that period,” Nikki explains.
That said, those who suffer from Takotsubo are often women – who are otherwise fit and healthy. “For some reason - which we don’t quite know the explanation for yet - their hearts are much more susceptible to the ill effects of stress,” Nikki adds.