Broken heart syndrome and cancer are connected, scientists say

Posted at 2:41 PM, Jul 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-18 17:04:13-04

What could cancer have in common with broken heart? These researchers are working to find out.

Broken heart syndrome is a real thing, though it’s also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy or Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. It’s triggered by intensely stressful situations, like losing a loved one.

You know how some couples die within just a few days of each other? That’s an example of the syndrome. Symptoms include sudden chest pain, caused by the surge of stress hormones.

And now, new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association says broken heart syndrome may be linked to cancer.

The study, published on Wednesday, found that one in six people with broken heart syndrome also developed cancer — and they were more likely to die within five years after their diagnosis, compared to those without broken heart syndrome.

Researchers are quick to point out that the relationship between broken heart syndrome and cancer hasn’t been fully explored. The study set out to begin that process by looking at data from over 1,600 patients with broken heart syndrome. But the researchers didn’t find causation, just that a link exists between the two.

For people who have either cancer or broken heart syndrome, this isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm. It simply means that patients with broken heart syndrome may have to go through more screening to test for cancer.

“A substantial number of [broken heart syndrome] patients show an association with malignancy,” the researchers wrote. “History of malignancy might increase the risk for [broken heart syndrome], and therefore, appropriate screening for malignancy should be considered in these patients.”