In 1964, February was designated by the Federal Government as American
Heart Month. It is the month of the year that we should focus on making
heart healthy choices in our lives. Unfortunately, heart disease remains
the number one cause of death in both men and women around the world.
Most of us are familiar with the traditional risk factors associated with
heart disease. These risk factors include a history of smoking, hypertension,
diabetes and high cholesterol. In addition, a family history of heart
disease is considered an additional risk factor. Unfortunately, few people
realize that there is also a rather significant cardiovascular risk factor
that we are all, one way or another, exposed to. I am talking about the
risk factor of stress.
There is no better example of how stress can affect the heart then the
condition “stress cardiomyopathy”. A stress cardiomyopathy
has many names including “Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy”, “Broken
Heart Syndrome”, and “Apical Ballooning Syndrome.” These
are different names for the same syndrome in which intense emotional or
physical stress can cause rapid and severe heart muscle weakness (cardiomyopathy).