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'Broken heart syndrome' to be probed by University of Aberdeen

heart attack Image copyright Science Photo Library

The long-term effect of what is known as "broken heart syndrome" is to be probed by University of Aberdeen researchers after the award of a grant.

Acute stress induced cardiomyopathy is said to often follow bereavement, involvement in an accident, or divorce.

Sufferers experience heart attack-like symptoms despite there being no blockage in the coronary arteries.

The study, led by Dr Dana Dawson, has been awarded a British Medical Association grant.

A previous University of Aberdeen study suggested sufferers still felt the effects up to four months later.

'Underdiagnosed condition'

Dr Dawson said: "Whilst the condition was originally thought to be self-limiting, we were surprised to see that, later, patients still lack energy or are unable to return to work.

"There are also reports from other groups that these after-effects continue to linger with sufferers.

"At the moment, we believe the condition is underdiagnosed because many front door physicians don't consider it as a possibility. Certainly we feel the number of cases diagnosed is far smaller than the real amount of sufferers."

She added: "We will recall many of the previously diagnosed patients and hope to examine thoroughly to what extent their hearts have recovered.

"Do they ever recover fully? Do they remain at an intermittent level of recovery, explaining why they couldn't do what they did before? Or is it a psychological issue?"

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