On this Valentine’s Day – Beware of Broken Heart Syndrome

Let me introduce to you on this Valentine’s Day – “Broken Heart Syndrome.”

Dr. Runjhun Misra
Dr. Runjhun Misra

It’s known to the medical folks as “Takotsubo cardiomyopathy” or “stress cardiomyopathy.” Like most people, I am not a fan of big fancy words that only appear sophisticated on paper, but are more like white noise to the ear; so let me explain what happens to the heart in this peculiar case.

The heart is not only the most powerful organ, but it is, surprisingly, also the most sensitive. And it’s sensitive not only to chemical imbalances, but also to emotional ones. Under extreme emotional stress, some individuals have experienced a sudden, temporary weakening of the heart muscle which causes them significant medical distress. In some documented cases, lovelorn men and women have experienced a broken heart (literally) after their love is strewn apart. It is a scientific phenomenon, and skeptical as you may be, you’d better believe it.

So why, today, on the holiest of love days am I presenting this depressing condition?

February 14 is one of the most loved (and hated) days on the Gregorian calendar. Women expect Hallmark channel romantic movies to transform themselves into reality, while men just want the Mayan calendar to predict the end of the world on this day (every year). Although it’s become one of the most expensive and commercial holidays in existence, it’s worthwhile to put aside the roses and to acknowledge this day for what it stood for originally.


As a character once said in a Hindi movie – “infatuation may happen often in a lifetime, but love only happens once.” While some people will find this to be true in the way of a soul mate, others believe that finding love is about finding the right person…at the right time. In any case, it’s about finding love, and believing that we will. The most earnest and genuine desire innate within all of us, is to love, and to be loved. Newborn infants can be provided with the best nutrition, but if they aren’t given love and human touch – they may perish. I do not dramatize the facts. This is a reality.

So when a lot of women (especially) and men are forlorn today because they didn’t receive the dozen red roses and chocolate covered anything, let’s try to appreciate instead, the love we’ll continue to get from everybody else. Love in any form is a blessing, whether it’s from our “soul mate,” our “right mate,” moms, dads, brothers, sisters, friends, patients, or the elderly janitor who takes care of you like your own grandmother would; cherish the outpouring of this emotion which multiplies in quantity every time it’s divided.

I know a lot of people who will be single and perhaps unhappy today…so this is for all of you. There are worse things than broken heart syndrome – not surprisingly, medicine can fix this phenomenon, too. Imagine if you ceased to feel love, something most of us can’t even fathom. I know it’s better to have loved and lost rather than to have never loved at all. Just because there isn’t a guy or girl out there you can shower with superficiality today, don’t despair – because there’s love around you, and there always will be as long as hearts continue to beat.

So love with every cell in your body, and never apologize for believing in love. Show your love, not only today, but every other day of the year. And if anyone laughs at you for being a hopeless romantic (like I will forever remain), educate them in the words of a wise wizard from the Land of Oz, “Hearts will never be practical until they are made unbreakable.”

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