“Everywhere you go, always take the weather with you,
Everywhere you go, always take the weather…”
– Crowded House
Have you noticed that as soon as the weather changes, humans try to shield themselves from it?
Initially everyone is out, car windows are wide open. A week or two later, every car that goes by has the windows rolled up. Restaurant outdoor patios, after the initial period of elation, sit empty as we choose ”inside please” to dine in the artificially cooled air. Dining areas inside are often far too cool, hence we bring a sweater. The other day I was sitting on the beach and a neighbor glided by me on the water, standing on her paddle board, her slight body glistening with sweat. She looked up at me and shouted “It’s so hot!” It never crossed her mind to jump in the water. Surely the water is too cold or too hot or too mucky or too something!
A new feature on Love+Medicine!
Here is where I take questions from you, my wonderful readers.
Any subject is fair game. Questions may be sent anonymously.
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Today I was asked an interesting question I’d like to share.
A patient asked me:
“Is there a such thing as broken heart syndrome?”
Broken heart syndrome is, sadly, a real malady. It is also known as Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Takotsubo, a type of octopus trap (!), was first described in Japan in 1990. When someone suffers from an event that causes stress, it can take a toll on the heart. The stressor can be from any type of sudden news or confronting situation such as
- loss or illness of someone close – a relative, friend, pet
- intense fear – public speaking, while engaging in high risk sports
- severe pain
- domestic violence
- receiving bad news – such as a cancer diagnosis
- witnessing an accident
- sudden financial loss
- a surprise
Scientists believe that the event causes an increase in the “stress hormone” called adrenalin. Adrenalin causes the heart to overwork and eventually weaken, particularly the left ventricle. Clinically, it looks just like a heart attack. The patient complains of the typical symptoms of chest pain and shortness of breath. A complete work up to rule out a heart attack is needed, STAT! An EKG may show signs of a heart attack but in broken heart syndrome there are actually no blockages in the arteries surrounding the heart! Cardiac enzymes may increase, like in a heart attack, but the increase is small. Heart cells are merely “stunned”, they are not killed like in a heart attack.
The illness occurs almost exclusively in women, generally between the ages of 58-75. The good news is that it is reversible and most patients are better in one-two months. In rare cases it can be fatal, if the patient develops heart failure as a result of the weakness of the heart.
As humans we are very adaptable, but some situations are devastating to such a degree that, as we see, the heart can indeed be broken. No one should be alone while experiencing extreme physical and emotional stress. Even if the incident appears trivial and doesn’t warrant this degree of sadness, this is no time for judgement. There is no timeline for overcoming loss- so silly how we learned in medical school, one month of grieving for every year together- everyone is different. Be there, for as long as it takes.
June in Copenhagen. One of the most notable sitings all over town is the presence of truckloads of students graduating from high school, all wearing caps, dancing to loud music. While walking through the park, a Danish fellow explained the tradition and agreed to share it….
In the dark all cats are grey.
– Benjamin Franklin
People often ask me what I am watching these days. Not because I watch so much, but because I am very passionate (and vocal;) about what I watch. This is the age of great television, specifically not network television. People who ask me know that I have very particular preferences in what I watch and they are drawn to the same, or they tell me how horrified they are that I suggested it!
First let me tell you what I really disliked, if you like these, you may not be drawn to my recommendations. Notting Hill, Modern Family, anything with Sandra Bullock, reality TV, Star Wars, The Notebook, anything animated, anything PG13, comedies.
My kids say that I only like movies where “nothing happens.” So here is my list right now, subject to change: