Why a Broken Heart Could Affect Your Health Insurance

There’s no doubt that suffering from a broken heart can be one of the most painful emotional trials anyone can experience. Sometimes it hurts to the very core and indeed feels like the actual heart is breaking in two. However, did you know some doctors have found that in some cases, we can suffer from broken heart syndrome, which is an actual medical condition? It physically affects your body to the extent you think you’re having a heart attack.

Many have been rushed to the emergency room only to find that a broken heart is literally breaking their heart. If you think this could affect you, take time to learn more about broken heart syndrome.

What is Broken Heart Syndrome?

Whether you’re suffering from the loss of a relationship, home, job or loved one, you could be affected by broken heart syndrome or stress cardiomyopathy. First described medically by Japanese doctors in 1991, the condition (originally called takotsubo cardiomyopathy) is said to have an actual effect on your heart, enlarging the left ventricle from its standard shape to one that resembles a pot (takotsubo) that Japanese fishermen use to capture octopuses.

While the syndrome is temporary, doctors believe it has a very real physical effect on those who suffer from it. Let’s take a closer look at some specifics of the disorder:

Understanding Broken Heart Syndrome


The symptoms of broken heart syndrome can mimic those of heart disease. As a result, you and even your doctor could initially think that you’re suffering from a heart attack because of the strong chest pains and shortness of breath.


In order for physicians to determine that broken heart syndrome is not actually a heart attack, they must check your personal history then complete a physical exam.

The doctor will check to see if you had heart disease symptoms beforehand. In addition, he may perform the following exams:

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

Chest X-ray


Blood tests

Once the doctor determines that you indeed have broken heart syndrome, he will begin treatment.


There is no standard treatment for broken heart syndrome, though many doctors prescribe blood pressure medication to reduce the pressure to the heart. This treatment is likely to only last a week, which is the timeframe the most doctors believe it takes to recover. Luckily, heart surgery is not one of the treatments necessary.


While physicians don’t know the exact cause of broken heart syndrome, they think it may be brought on by a brief surge of stress hormones (such as adrenaline) that could temporarily damage the heart.

A number of factors are said to trigger this effect. Some include physical traumas like domestic abuse, an asthma attack, car accident or even a major surgery.

Emotional traumas like the unexpected death of a loved one, losing a lot of money or a job, a frightening medical diagnosis or the loss of an important relationship could also trigger the syndrome.


While broken heart syndrome is different than a heart attack because the heart artery isn’t blocked by a clot, it could pose short-term complications because blood flow in the arteries may be reduced.

Some of these complications include disruptions in the heartbeat, fast or slow heartbeat and a backup of fluid in the lungs. The major risk, however, is that you could suffer the syndrome multiple times if more stressful events occur.

Health Insurance, Heart Coverage and Broken Heart Syndrome Prevention

As you can imagine, with broken heart syndrome being such a frightening experience, it would have to have an immediate effect on your health insurance. From the time you feel chest pains, you’re thinking of how to get to the closest emergency room.

Of course, this cost adds up right away. If the hospital has to run a series of tests, you’re asked to stay overnight in the hospital, or you need medication to help you get through the next week after you leave, the cost of a broken heart (thankfully, minus the need for open heart surgery) could be pretty costly. This is why some people try to look for just-in-case coverage options.

While some health insurance companies offer options like stroke and heart insurance that pays for expenses that major medical plans don’t cover (copayments, deductibles, daily living expenses, etc.), taking this route isn’t recommended unless you have a history of heart disease.

Since broken heart syndrome only lasts for a very short period of time (and does not afflict everyone) the coverage probably wouldn’t be worth the cost.

So what can you do to avoid any costs associated with this syndrome? Unfortunately, there’s nothing out there that can help you totally prevent the syndrome. However, if you know that you become especially stressed during heart-breaking situations, you could consider the following:

  • Spend time with friends and family: If you’ve suffered from a broken heart for any reason, it’s good to surround yourself with people who love you and want you to feel better.
  • Do what you love: When you feel up to it, it’s good to spend time doing what you love, including exercising, painting, hiking, playing with your grandkids or visiting an amusement park.
  • Relax: Remember that suffering a major trauma has a powerful effect on your body. Take a few days off of work and relax as much as possible.
  • Get professional help if needed: If you find that the trauma is too much to handle emotionally, seek professional help to assist in sorting out your feelings.

Also, it’s good to keep yourself healthy at all times to strengthen your heart. Of course, heartache is something that’s difficult to avoid. At the very least, the physical effects of your pain may lessen if your heart is in good condition.

While broken heart syndrome is not deemed a serious disorder, it is not to be taken lightly. Studies show that heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. If you feel chest pain, don’t assume it’s not a heart attack. Seek help immediately and allow a doctor to tell you that all you’re suffering from is a broken heart.