Broken Heart Syndrome

You can die of a broken heart — it’s scientific fact — and my heart has been breaking since that very first day we met. I can feel it now, aching deep behind my rib cage the way it does every time we’re together, beating a desperate rhythm: Love me. Love me. Love me.
Abby McDonald, Getting Over Garrett Delaney

I recently learned about broken heart syndrome when Dr. Marla Shapiro was talking about it on TV. She mentioned that it was first described in 1990 in Japan as Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy.  Takotsubo is a Japanese term for an octopus trap because of the ballooning shape of the heart during an attack. What is broken heart syndrome?  It is a temporary heart condition caused by an extremely stressful event.  It is a recently recognized heart problem and it can strike you even if you are healthy.

People with broken heart syndrome think that they are having a heart attack when they have a sudden chest pain.  In broken heart syndrome, there is a temporary disruption of the heart’s normal pumping function while the rest of the heart functions normally or with more forceful contractions.

There may be shortness of breath, irregular heartbeats (Arrhythmias) or cardiogenic shock can occur. Cardiogenic shock occurs when a suddenly weakened heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.  This can be fatal it it is not treated right away.  In fact, Cardiogenic shock is the most common cause of death among people who die from heart attacks.  Any time you experience chest pain, you should call 911 and get emergency medical care.  All chest pain should be checked by a doctor.

Women are more likely than men to have broken heart syndrome.  It can be brought on by the death of a loved one, divorce, a break-up, physical separation, betrayal or romantic rejection, a frightening medical diagnosis, domestic abuse, natural disasters, job loss, asthma attack, car accident or major surgery.  It can even occur after a good shock such as winning the lottery.  It is more commonly seen among post-menopausal women. Research is ongoing to find out what causes this disorder and how to diagnose and treat it.

As mentioned before the most common symptoms of broken heart syndrome are chest pain, shortness of breath and very rapid or irregular heartbeat.  WebMD mentions two other symptoms, arm pain and sweating.  It is usually treatable.  Most people who experience it have a full recovery within weeks and and the risk of it happening again is low although in some rare cases it can be fatal.  The only way you can be certain if you have broken heart syndrome is for you to have some tests.  These tests used include the following:

  • Medical history and physical exam
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Chest x-ray
  • Echocardiogram
  • Blood tests
  • Coronary angiogram

If you have any questions about Broken Heart syndrome, please visit Seconds Count and download their PDF file.

A broken heart is a real condition.   In 2010 the Wall Street Journal wrote an article of a 63 year old woman named Dorothy Lee who lost her husband on night when they were driving home from a Bible Study group.  He had suffered from a heart attack. At the hospital after she learned of his death, Dorothy began to experience sudden sharp pains in her chest, felt faint and went unconscious.

An X-ray angiogram revealed that she hadn’t suffered a heart attack.  There was no blood clot and her coronary arteries were completely clear. Dorothy had suffered from broken heart syndrome.  It was triggered by the sudden loss of her husband of 40 years.  She was literally heartbroken.  Thankfully, she was at the hospital when she had her symptoms and she didn’t die although the episode severely weakened her heart.  She required a special balloon pump to support her left ventricle during the first couple of days in the hospital.  Five days later she was discharged.

Despite being cautioned by doctors, she attended her husband’s funeral. She was able work through her grief positively and spiritually.   To date she has had no effects of the heart episode.

It is extremely important that if you or someone else experience any chest pain that you don’t ignore it or feel embarrassed to call for help.  At the first sign of symptoms, get help. This can save your life or someone else’s life and limit the damage to the heart.

A broken heart is not just something out of a romance novel.  It is a reality.

 

 

broken heart syndrome

 

Sources:  American Heart Association; Mayo Clinic; National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; Wikipedia; Women Heart; WebMD; Uptodate

Death of Baby Falak

This evening I received an email update from Dreamcatchers For Abused Children about the death an Indian baby girl named Falak who survived two cardiac arrests and a meningitis infection contracted during treatment.  She was admitted to the hospital covered in human bite marks.  The Doctors in Delhi said the battered two-year-old suffered a fatal heart attack.  This was tragic news for many who were rooting for the toddler, especially as she showed signs of improvement after being taken off life support and taken out of intensive care before her sudden death.

Neurosurgeon Dr Deepak Aggarwal said: ‘The reasons that triggered the cardiac arrest are still not known. An autopsy will be conducted on Friday and that may throw some light.’  He told the Economic Times: ‘The atmosphere is very grim in the hospital because all the staff was emotionally attached to her.’

Police are investigating the crime and 13 arrests were made, including that of Raj Kumar, the man accused of leaving Baby Falak with his 14-year-old girlfriend.  Raj is the child’s foster father.  Her mother is believed to be a 22 year old woman who allegedly abandoned Falak at the home of a woman named as Lakshmi, a resident of Uttam Nagar.

My heart aches when I think of what this precious child went through at the hands of people who should have cared for her.  When she was taken to the hospital, she was suffering from horrendous injuries such broken arms and a smashed skull.  And bite marks.  How could anyone bite another person, especially a child?

I have read what happens to baby girls in India.  They are aborted, abandoned and regarded as a burden on their families because of the dowry their parents would have to pay when they are older.  And according to The Times of India, India is the most dangerous place in the world to be a baby girl. Newly released data shows that an Indian girl child aged 1-5 years is 75% more likely to die than an Indian boy, making this the worst gender differential in child mortality for any country in the world.  In India, girl babies face ‘pre-meditated’ murder under femicide.

Femicide was redefined as a feminist term by Diana Russell in 1976 to refer to misogynist murders. Just as murders targeting African Americans differentiate between those that are racist and those that are not, so are murders targeting women differentiated into those that are femicides and those that are not. When the gender of the victim is immaterial to the perpetrator, the murder qualifies as a non-femicidal crime.

After making minor changes in her definition over the years, Russell redefined femicide as “the killing of females by males because they are female”  Misogynist murders are the most obvious examples of femicide. These include mutilation murder, rape murder, woman battery that escalates into wife killing, the immolation of widows in India, and “honor crimes” in Latin and Middle Eastern countries, where women who are believed to have shamed their families by associating with an unrelated male, or even by being raped by a brother, are often murdered by their male relatives.

In India son preference is very common.  I read there is celebration when a woman has a boy but when she has a girl, it’s a completely different reaction.  I just read another heartbreaking story about a little girl named Karishma.  When she was born, her paternal grandmother was incensed, “A girl! I am going to put salt in her mouth and kill her!”  Apparently each rural region of India has its own age-old method of female infanticide. In the West there isdoodh-peeti (Drinking milk), where the baby is drowned in a bucket of milk.  In the East, as in Bengal, where Karishma is from, salt is put into the baby’s mouth and it’s closed for a minute. Karishma suffered physical abuse at the hands of her grandmother and she almost died from malnutrition.  Read about her story here.

What kind of society do we live in where a baby girl is bitten and battered and a father would throw his new born off a train within 12 hours of her birth and a grandmother would teach her grandson how to strangle his sister, promising him, “If you kill your sister, you will be even more loved by us”?   And why isn’t more being done to stop this?

I wrote a post a while ago on A Celebration of Women about the atrocities committed against helpless baby girls like Falak and I am sad to see that nothing has really changed.  India is still the most dangerous place for a girl and the mortality rate for girls is alarmingly high.  I am hoping that the death of Falak will galvanize people into taking action.  Someone has to stand up and say enough is enough!  Girl infants should be allowed to have a future because they matter.  Girls can be assets and blessings to their families.  The dowry system needs to be abolished because it is the main reason why girls are killed.  Criminal charges ought to be brought against any family member or members who commit femicide or abuse their girl children.

I would like human rights’ organization start a petition to end the crimes committed against girl infants and sent it to India’s President Pratibha Patil.  She needs to step in and do something.  I would like to see governments around the world take action.  I don’t want to see more babies end up like Falak.

Let us tell President Patil and anyone who would listen that girls matter and that they deserve a future.  Falak deserved a future.

Sources:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2115877/Death-Falak-Indian-baby-handed-hospital-covered-HUMAN-BITE-MARKS.htmlhttp://womennewsnetwork.net/2012/02/07/india-girl-infants-murder-femicide/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Femicide

Smoking and Women

A long time ago I took one drag on a cigarette and vowed never to touch another one again.  It made me cough and I felt terrible.  My sister used to smoke but then she stopped.  I have a cousin who used to smoke and her lips looked black.  I used to work with a woman who smoked while she was pregnant.  I have to admit that although I don’t like seeing anyone smoke because it’s not good for your health, I dislike seeing women smoke even more. 

In the movies they make it look glamourous.  Bette Davis looked sophisticated with a cigarette in her hand in Now Voyager.  It seemed so romantic when Paul Henreid lit both cigarettes and give her one. 

Smoking is anything but romantic or glamourous.  It is dangerous for your health.  Sadly, despite the many warnings that cigarettes can cause cancer and increase our risk of heart disease, approximately 23 million women in the US (23 percent of the female population) still smoke cigarettes. Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in this country, yet more than 140,000 women die each year from smoking related causes. The highest rate of smoking (27 percent) occurs among women between twenty-five and forty-four (http://womenshealth.about.com/cs/azhealthtopics/a/smokingeffects.htm).

The most common side effects of smoking are:

Pulmonary and Respiratory Disorders:  Smoking increases your risk of developing a condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The lung damage that occurs from pulmonary disease is not often reversible. However, if you do quit smoking your lung function will not decline further, and you may notice an improvement in coughing and breathing.

Cardiovascular disease:  Cigarette smoking is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease in the United States. Women who smoke more than double their risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Immediately stopping smoking can result in instant improvement in your cardiovascular function and a reduced risk of heat disease. After smoking cessation has continued for at least a year, your risk of developing cardiovascular disease drops by 50 percent. Your risk continues to decline the more years you remain smoke free. Some studies suggest the heart attack risk for smoker’s drops to that of nonsmokers after two years of cessation.

Cancer:  Cigarette smoking contributes to developing several different kinds of cancer, including cervical cancer, lung cancer, cancer of the esophagus, mouth, bladder and pancreas. Smoking cessation can improve your survival rate and reduce your risk of developing severe cancers resulting from smoking.

Osteoporosis:  Smoking contributes to bone loss, thus increases a woman’s risk for developing osteoporosis. 10 years after smoking cessation a woman’s excess risk for osteoporosis declines significantly.

Breast Cancer:  Women who smoke are more at risk for breast cancer. In fact, the risk of developing fatal forms of breast cancer is 75 percent higher for women who smoke than those that do not. The number of cigarettes a woman smokes per day can affect their breast cancer survival rate.

Vulvar Cancer: Women who smoke are also 48 percent more likely to develop a rare form of vulvar cancer.

Smoking may also contribute to many other diseases and problems. It is especially dangerous to pregnant women. Babies exposed to smoking mothers are often born with birth defects and low birth weights. Mothers who smoke are also more at risk for miscarriage, premature rupture of the membranes and placenta previa. Babies born to mothers that smoke often experience withdrawal symptoms during the first week of life. Over time smoking also contribute to skin wrinkling and may even reduce your sexual ability. Quitting smoking improves all of these conditions immediately (http://www.womenshealthcaretopics.com/smoking_and_women.htm).

Women are more at risk for certain problems related to smoking than men are. Women who use oral contraceptives or other hormonal forms of birth control are especially at risk for developing serious side effects. Women using hormones who smoke increase their risk of developing life threatening blood clots and strokes.

Women who smoke typically have reduced fertility. Studies suggest that women who smoke are 3.4 times more likely to experience problems conceiving than those who do not. This may be because of a decreased ovulatory response. In some women the egg had trouble implanting when the mother smokes.

Smoking also affects women’s normal cyclical changes, including those that occur during menopause and menstruation. Women who start smoking during their teen years are more at risk for developing early menopause than women who do not smoke. Smokers may also experience more menstrual problems including abnormal bleeding or amenorrhea than women who don’t smoke. This may be because smoking often lowers levels of estrogens in the body (http://www.womenshealthcaretopics.com/smoking_and_women.htm).

Now that we know the risks of smoking, let’s look at some tips that will help women to quit.  I came across an article on How to Quit Cold Turkey written by a woman who used to smoke.  Note these tips are only for women who wish to quit smoking cold turkey.   There are three things you will need:   

Other steps to quit smoking are:

Step 1

Think about the positive health changes that will take place after you stop smoking.

Step 2

Make improvements in your appearance part of your plan. Aim for a sweeter smelling and better looking you.

Step 3

Get rid of all your cigarettes and put a healthy snack in your mouth instead of a cigarette when you get the urge to smoke. Also replace smoking with an activity you enjoy engaging in or can benefit from to help you quit.

Step 4

Talk to your doctor about taking medicine to help you stop smoking. Ask him if you are healthy enough to use the patch, nasal spray, inhaler, gum or lozenges, and find out which of these products he thinks is best for you.  Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/178278-how-women-can-quit-smoking/#ixzz1F868POZ5

I have a friend who used to smoke.  She quit because she read in her Bible, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).  She looks much better since she quit. 

If you are a woman who smokes,  quitting may be the hardest thing for you to do but it will be the best thing in the long run.  You will feel better–more energetic and able to climb a flight of stairs without feeling winded.  And you will have a clear mind.  Plan to quit today.  You can do it!