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Feature Article

Heartache Can Lead to Heart Health Issues

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “No one has ever died of a broken heart,” but Suzette Boydston of Albany will be quick to arm you with the facts.

Last year, Boydston lost a dear friend. She remembers every detail, from racing to the hospital to gathering family and friends for an impromptu memorial, and saying the final goodbye.

“She was such a beautiful soul and I wasn’t ready for her to go,” said Boydston. “I was an absolute mess. I couldn’t keep my breath and I felt faint, like I might collapse.”

Hours after she left the hospital, Boydston felt like she had a heavy weight on her chest and was still having a hard time catching her breath. After a trip to the Emergency Department at Samaritan Albany General Hospital, she was told that her symptoms were like those of a heart attack. However, further diagnostic tests showed something different.

Boydston was experiencing broken heart syndrome – otherwise known as Takotsubo cardiomyopathy – caused by the stress of losing her friend.

“Broken heart syndrome can be caused by a multitude of stressors, good and bad,” explained her Cardiologist Matthew Lindberg, MD.

Broken heart syndrome causes part of the heart to expand and weakens muscles in the heart, disrupting normal pumping function. It occurs more often in women than men and can cause chest pain and shortness of breath.

“While most cases are easily treated and reversible, anyone experiencing chest pain or shortness of breath, should seek immediate medical attention,” said Dr. Lindberg.

For Boydston, recovery required getting plenty of rest and overcoming her grief. Planting and caring for zinnia flower seeds that came from her friend’s farm has helped Boydston heal and continues to bring her joy.