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Upon hearing of the death of Joe Paterno, I pondered this question … “Do you think a person can die of a broken heart either because of losing a loved one or not being able to do what they love?”

Here is an article to further answer our question.

The Boston Globe 10/2007 says YES!

In the last few years, researchers at Brown University, Johns Hopkins University, and elsewhere have begun keeping track of people whose hearts have stopped – or almost stopped – after intense emotional or physical stress, a problem Japanese researchers began noticing in the 1990s.

In America, it’s called “broken heart syndrome” or “stress cardiomyopathy.” In Japan, it’s “Takotsubo cardiomyopathy.” That’s because “takotsubo” is the name of a pot used to trap octopus, and in these cases, the heart walls squeeze together abnormally, taking on the shape of this pot.

“The heart muscle becomes weak after sudden stress,” said Dr. Ilan Wittstein, a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins, probably because of the sudden flood of stress hormones – adrenalin and noradrenalin – causing the heart to become “stunned . . the heart is unprepared for the large surge of adrenalin.”

In rare cases, broken heart syndrome can be fatal, said Dr. Richard Regnante, a cardiologist at Brown University.

But if a patient makes it through the first 48 hours – often in the intensive care unit – prognosis is excellent, with complete recovery of heart muscle function in two to three weeks, said Wittstein.

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