You’ve heard it before. Your friends just got engaged, or landed a dream job or found out they’re going to be parents, at last. “I’m so happy I could die!”
We smile at those comments and dismiss the hyperbole, but here’s the catch: Though it’s seldom life-threatening, too much happiness could kill you.
Researchers have shown that our emotional state affects not just whether we get sick, but whether we live or die. But until now, only negative emotions were implicated, such as those associated with stressful life events like divorce or the death of a loved one. Indeed, a study published in March in the journal Open Heart analyzed the records of more than 88,000 heart patients in Denmark and found further evidence that a broken heart can be fatal.
The study found that for one year after losing a spouse or partner, the surviving partner had an increased risk of atrial fibrillation – changes to the heart’s rhythm that can lead to a life-threatening stroke or heart failure – especially when the loss was unexpected.
And then there’s the disease named after an octopus trap, whose symptoms mirror those of a heart attack.
People who have takotsubo cardiomyopathy – conservatively estimated at one to two percent of patients who show up at the hospital with the symptoms of a heart attack or other acute coronary syndrome – experience a temporary weakening of the left ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber. The ventricle takes on an unusual shape: a narrow
To read more, please continue to page 2.