A death in the family, an armed robbery, a car accident, a biopsy procedure and a surprise party were among the events that sent 18 women and one man to the emergency room with chest pains and weakening of the heart, according to an article in The New England Journal of Medicine. Most were older: their median age was 63. But one was 27, another 32. Some had such poor heart function that they would have died without aggressive treatment to keep their blood circulating. But all recovered.
The cases lend credence to the age-old idea that it is possible to scare someone to death, or to die from sorrow. The authors of the article call the condition "stress cardiomyopathy," and have nicknamed it "broken-heart syndrome." How exactly it occurs is not clear, but the patients had unusually high levels of stress-related brain chemicals and hormones like adrenaline, which may have temporarily impaired their heart function. Why nearly all the victims were female is also unknown.
Yeah! So when my birthday rolls around next month, no surprises!