American philanthropist Rose Kennedy once said: “It has been said ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissues and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
Her quote on heartbreak is now being proven, as a study carried out by medical researchers with the University of Aberdeen in Scotland has found that heartbreak leaves physical scars that never recover.
The study, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), followed for four months 52 patients with Broken Heart Syndrome, officially known as Takotsubo Syndrome, between the ages of 28 and 87.
The research found that heartbreak can cause one’s left ventricle to change its shape which affects the heart’s ability to pump blood and squeeze. No medical treatment has been found yet for this condition.
The relatively unknown condition was first named in Japan in 1990 after the local word for an octopus pot, since the shape of the pot looks like a broken left ventricle.
The study reveals that Takotsubo Syndrome is triggered by intense emotional or physical stress stunning the heart muscle, and causing the left ventricle to change its shape.
According to the Telegraph, every year, around 3,000 people, mostly women, suffer from the syndrome in the UK.
“This study has shown that in some patients who develop Takosubo Syndrome, various aspects of heart function remain abnormal for up to four months afterwards,” BHF Associate Medical Director Professor Metin Avkiran told The Telegraph.
He also said these patients’ hearts appear to show a form of scarring, indicating full recovery may take much longer, or indeed may not occur, with current care.
Ultrasound and cardiac MRI scans conducted by the Aberdeen team also revealed that the patients’ hearts were permanently affected by the syndrome and could not pump blood or squeeze properly.
According to Dr Dana Dawson, the leader of the Aberdeen team, medical experts used to believe that people affected by the syndrome fully recover without medical intervention but the study shows the syndrome has much longer lasting damage on their hearts.
Figures also show that between 3% and 17% of sufferers die from Takosubo syndrome within five years of diagnosis.
However, in cases, the left ventricle becomes normal over a few days, weeks or months.
The BHF also said more research is needed to establish whether the syndrome can be passed down through the family or not.