I’ve come across this on Twitter this morning:

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Now, I really wonder whether this could be true. I tried to do some research and while I’ve come across sites claiming you can die from a “broken heart” (figuratively), they back their claims with other kind of heart problems like a heart attack or angina pectoris. I have, however, not been able to establish whether the above claim could be true.

So is it true that an emotional trauma can destroy tissue in the human heart?


1 Answer 1


"Broken heart syndrome" is real, but it doesn't involve these tendons (which are known as the "chordae tendineae").

Broken heart syndrome, also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy, can strike even if you’re healthy. (Tako tsubo, by the way, are octopus traps that resemble the pot-like shape of the stricken heart.)

In broken heart syndrome, a part of your heart temporarily enlarges and doesn’t pump well, while the rest of your heart functions normally or with even more forceful contractions. Researchers are just starting to learn the causes, and how to diagnose and treat it.


Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is a weakening of the left ventricle, the heart's main pumping chamber, usually as the result of severe emotional or physical stress, such as a sudden illness, the loss of a loved one, a serious accident, or a natural disaster such as an earthquake. (For additional examples, see "Stressors associated with takotsubo cardiomyopathy.") That's why the condition is also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy, or broken-heart syndrome. The main symptoms are chest pain and shortness of breath.

  • 7
    I confess, I was dubious, but it checks out
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 7, 2018 at 18:27
  • 27
    @Oddthinking The intersection of stress and body processes like this is fascinating. It's a pity someone decided to embellish an already interesting factoid.
    – ceejayoz
    Jun 7, 2018 at 18:44
  • 1
    Stress is bad for your heart? Who knew...
    – Mazura
    Jun 8, 2018 at 19:56

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