You've heard many times the old phrase "she died of a broken heart." Now it turns out this "broken heart syndrome" is a real medical condition.

Doctors at Johns Hopkins University reported how a tragic event can stun your heart. It can produce classic symptoms of a heart attack including chest pain, shortness of breath, and even fluid in your lungs. But it's different from a heart attack.

Insufficient blood supply or oxygen to the heart is the cause of a typical heart attack. This is usually secondary to a clot or blockage. But the Hopkins researchers showed that the stress of losing a loved one causes an outpouring of adrenaline. This hormone is vital for survival. But in excess, it can constrict tiny blood vessels in your heart, lead to dysrhythmias (irregular beats), and even cause free radical damage to your heart.

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Most of the 19 patients the doctors studied were postmenopausal women. Most were grieving over loss of a husband or loved one, but many events also followed a violent trauma that caused the stress.

It's not surprising that your emotions can lead to acute heart problems. You know how your emotions can urgently alter your digestion, bowel, and bladder functions. Your brain, thoughts, and emotions are intertwined into every organ. So a severe blow to the emotions can cause serious damage to your body.

The difference between a heart attack and a broken heart is important because it changes how the heart problem is treated. To begin with, if you've recently lost a loved one and feel your heart having trouble, take some of the homeopathic remedy ignacia. I've used this fantastic remedy to modulate grief. It's a time-honored treatment that works well to relax your body.

I also recommend you take some magnesium, which will relax your muscles, including your heart. When your body relaxes, it won't produce as much adrenaline. And it will release the constriction on your blood vessels.

Then, when you go to the hospital, make sure you tell the attending physician that you think you may have "broken heart syndrome."  Don't be embarrassed to say this.  The Johns Hopkins researchers say that doing so may save you from a lot of unnecessary procedures and possibly even save your life.

Ref: New England Journal of Medicine, February 9, 2005.

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