How traumatic events can lead to heart failure

Posted at 12:41 PM, Sep 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-15 15:41:17-04

We often talk of having a broken heart, but the deep sadness that comes along with life changing events can cause real physical problems.

In extreme cases, it can even kill.

"Some type of event has stressed them out acutely, and their heart is affected by it. It doesn't work," Mayo Clinic's Dr. Eric Yang explained.

An Arizona mother suffered the deadly fate after losing her soldier son. Within hours of seeing his body, she died of a "broken heart." just days after learning her soldier son had passed away.

Doctors say it can happen to anyone, but with immediate care, the heart can quickly recover.

"It's usually more frequent in women than men, but we are seeing it in men also," Yang said.

This also teaches us, the heart is more than just a muscle -- it can be affected by what we are emotionally experiencing, which Yang admits is a good reminder for both doctors and patients.

"We treat patients, not hearts or lungs or livers, so this is good for us to be able to see the larger picture," Yang said.