Even though broken heart syndrome may feel like a heart attack, it’s a very different problem that needs a different type of treatment.
The good news is that broken heart syndrome is usually treatable, and most people make a full recovery. Most people who experience broken heart syndrome stay in the hospital for a few days to a week.
Initial treatment is aimed at improving blood flow to the heart, and may be similar to that for a heart attack until the diagnosis is clear. Further treatment can include medicines and lifestyle changes.
Doctors may prescribe medicines to relieve fluid buildup, treat blood pressure problems, prevent blood clots, and manage stress hormones. Medicines are often discontinued once heart function has returned to normal.
Your doctor may prescribe the following medicines:
- ACE inhibitors (or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors), to lower blood pressure and reduce strain on your heart
- Beta blockers, to slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure to decrease your heart’s workload
- Diuretics (water or fluid pills), to help reduce fluid buildup in your lungs and swelling in your feet and ankles
- Anti-anxiety medicines, to help manage stress hormones
Take all of your medicines as prescribed. If you have side effects or other problems related to your medicines, tell your doctor. He or she may be able to provide other options.
Treatment of Complications
Broken heart syndrome can be life threatening in some cases. Because the syndrome involves severe heart muscle weakness, patients can experience shock, heart failure, low blood pressure, and potentially life-threatening heart rhythm abnormalities.
The good news is that this condition improves very quickly, so with proper diagnosis and management, even the most critically ill tend to make a quick and complete recovery.
To stay healthy, it’s important to find ways to reduce stress and cope with particularly upsetting situations. Learning how to manage stress, relax, and cope with problems can improve your emotional and physical health.
Having supportive people in your life with whom you can share your feelings or concerns can help relieve stress. Physical activity, medicine, and relaxation therapy also can help relieve stress. You may want to consider taking part in a stress management program.
Treatments Not Helpful for Broken Heart Syndrome
Several procedures used to treat a heart attack are not helpful in treating broken heart syndrome. These procedures—percutaneous coronary intervention (sometimes referred to as angioplasty), stent placement, and surgery—treat blocked arteries, which is not the cause of broken heart syndrome.