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Health 54 views Mar 28, 2018
What happens to your body after a breakup?

Some people who haven’t experienced breakups would laugh it off when they hear that people could get life threatning conditions because of a breakup. How can an apparently healthy person die of a heart attack just because he or she has been dumped? To many, it’s even quite naïve to believe it can actually happen. If you have just broken up with your partner, you should learn the truth about this claim. Can a person die because of a breakup?

Many interested experts have researched the answer to this question. You might be surprised at their conclusions. Find out what some researchers discovered in their studies.

#1 – A 2017 study done by researchers and published at the Harvard News Letter stated that Broken Heart Syndrome, also called stress cardiomyopathy caused by bereavement, such as the loss of a beloved person through death, breakups, or similar occurrences can simulate the chest pain caused by a myocardial infarction (heart attack).

Some of these symptoms include: chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, pain in the back, dizziness, and pain in the arms.

Based on their findings, we can therefore conclude that if the symptoms of a breakup are left untreated, evident death can also happen. However, the team of experts in this study has not documented any case of actual death due to stress cardiomyopathy.

#2 – In his study, Dr. Salim Virani confirmed the findingsthat Broken Heart Syndrome or Takutsubo Cardiomyopathy “mimics the clinical presentation of an acute coronary syndrome.” Thus, all the symptoms that the sick patient displays are also the symptoms of a broken-hearted person, and one of the symptoms is chest pain or heartache.

Dr. Virani discovered that acute emotional stress or broken heart syndrome can cause a mild elevation of the cardiac enzymes that include Creatine Phosphokinase (CPK), Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST) and Lactic Dehydrogenase (LDH). These enzymes are usually elevated in myocardial infarction (heart attack). Aside from these, there are other changes that take place in the heart.

#3 – Based on a recent review conducted by researchers at the University of Miami, School of Medicine, breakups can cause romantic breakup distress. The symptoms include chest pain, a sense of betrayal, depression, anxiety and many other similar physical manifestations.

This study confirms the results of other researches that social pains activate the same brain regions as physical pains do. This region is the right ventral prefrontal cortex of the brain.

In addition, the researchers found out that persons who have experienced loss have decreased immune system function because of the reduced number of natural killer cells.

#4 - Based on this study by Ethan Kross et al on “Social rejection shares somatosensory representations with physical pain,” a breakup presents the “sensory components of physical pain.” They also concluded that physical pain and rejection have the same somatosensory representation; hence, the pains you can experience are similar.

A breakup is also a form of social rejection, thus, the pains experienced by the individual are the same with that of physical pain. The study concluded that both of these events cause distress. Nonetheless, the distress that comes from social rejection is not caused by a “noxious bodily stimulus”.

#5 – Some cases of death due to a broken heart have been documented. Although, the heartbreak is caused by the death of a loved one, the possibility of a breakup causing death is still omnipresent. In this study, the deaths of the bereaved couples due to heart attacks or strokes occurred within a one-month period.

These cases could demonstrate that breakups can also cause death; that is, if the heartbroken person doesn’t recover and the bereavement is severe.

They also found out that bereavement, also known as broken heart syndrome, or takotsubo cardiomyopathy can affect directly the health of the heart.

#6 – A Matched Cohort Study published by JAMA Intern Med. 2014 concluded: “Our study confirms the potential of major life events, such as bereavement, to lead to marked short-term increases in the risk of cardiovascular events.”

Dr. Carey et al compared groups of bereaved couples with those of couples who have still alive partners (control group) within a 30-day period, and they have found out that the rate of cardiovascular events (myocardial infarction or stroke) were increased in couples, who were grieving for the loss of their partners.

“Major life events” could include breakups, divorce, physical separation, and other forms of emotional rejections.

Older persons have an increased rate of demonstrating the symptoms of a broken heart syndrome. Most probably, this is because younger people could bounce back quickly due to the presence of a variety of coping activities, such as social media and the Internet. This could be another study that can be conducted by future researchers.


These studies point to the fact that dying of a broken heart is not a myth. Reported deaths due to a broken heart occur rarely, but studies have shown that there is an increase in the number of cases every year.

Thus, if a friend or a family member, who had a breakup, approaches you and complains of chest pain and the other symptoms of a broken heart, don’t disregard his pain. Listen to the person and determine whether you need to take him to the hospital. If the heartbreak is severe, the individual’s pain is genuine and could be fatal. You should believe that the person could die just because he was dumped.

Nevertheless, many experts concluded that your heartbreak can be successfully treated through relaxation breathing and exercise. Of course, when the symptoms persist, you have to consult your doctor because its not easy to get over someone especially when the relationship was a long one.

You may have experienced breakups and similar acute emotional stress. In these miserable moments you must have wished that someone was there for you. If you find this post helpful, you can share it with your family and friends, so they would learn that emotional stressors are life threatening, and they should be managed and treated appropriately.



Valerie, Scanlon, PhD et al; “Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology” 5th edition

Tags: #relationship