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Broken Heart Syndrome

[Book of Odds, April 06, 2010] It's a timeworn theme, dying of a broken heart. The poet of the Psalms recognized that "by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken" (Psalms 15:13). In Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, a broken heart takes Enobarbus. Reports of dying of a broken heart have appeared in recent news, old news, and ancient narrative.

Beyond poetry, anecdote, and observation, heart specialists and medical researchers are recognizing a physiological basis for dying of a broken heart.

In Broken Heart Syndrome, a heart reacts adversely to stress hormones and stops pumping correctly. Dr. Scott Sharkey of the Minneapolis Heart Institute refers to it as a "concussion" of the heart. In rare cases it's fatal.

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