| Tuesday, February 15, 2005
| BROKEN HEART
|I HAD ALWAYS ASSUMED THAT A BROKEN HEART
was just a metaphor, a cliche of country music and romance
novels. So I was as surprised as anyone to learn last week
that doctors now consider it a real medical event,
one that can kill.
The news comes from a report published in the
New England Journal of Medicine in which physicians
at Johns Hopkins described a group of 18 mostly older women
and one man who developed serious heart problems after
experiencing a sudden emotional shock, such as the death of
a loved one, or in the case of one 60 year old woman,
a surprise birthday party.
What surprised the doctors who examined these patients was
that none of them had actually suffered a heart attack.
Indeed, few had any sings of heart disease at all.
Yet at least five of the 19-- and perhaps more -- would have
died without treatment, according to Dr. Ilan Wittstein,
the cardiologist who led the study.
What was going on? To get to the bottom of it, Wittstein
and his colleagues measured the levels of catecholamines --
the family of stress hormones that includes adrenalin --
that their parents were producing. In each case they found
high levels of stress hormones -- up to 34 times as great
as normal levels and two to the three times as great as
those typically seen during severe heart attackes.
It's still unclear whether the hormones caused the cardiacs
problems or were caused by them. Nor can doctors explain
why women's hearts seen more vulnerable than men's .
"Men typically produce higher levels of catecholamines in
response to a stressful event than women do," Wiitsetin says.
"So if you had to guess, you'd guess that men would have
this problem than women".
The good news about the condition doctors are calling the
broken-heart syndrome is that it's reversible -- provided
the inital shock isn't too great. And repeat occurences
appear to be uncommon, no matter how many surprise bithday
parties they throw you.
(abstracted from YOURTIME/ by Christine Gorman)
CAN FOOD LIFT YOUR SPIRITS?
A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and uridine can
-- at least in rats. These mood molecules are found
in fish, walnuts and molasses and are as effective
as drugs in treating depression in rodents.
People too, probably: fish-eating cultures tend
to have lower rates of depression.
(abstracted from YOURTIME)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 3:14 PM