Too much happiness can be heartbreaking, doctors have warned. This is unlike the usual ‘broken heart syndrome’ which occurs after the loss of a spouse or other sad events.
For the first time, health experts have said over-excitement from happy events can also spark another condition, which they have termed ‘happy heart syndrome.’
The condition, which is also known as the 'takotsubo syndrome' involves a sudden temporary weakening of the heart muscles, which causes the left chamber of the heart to blow up like a balloon.
The deadly condition, which has symptoms of acute chest pain and shortness of breath can occur after a joyful event such as a surprise birthday party, a wedding or the birth of a child.
It is widely believed that an unexpected news of a death of a relative or a spouse can provoke attack. But no one had ever come out to investigate whether the opposite, that is, if a happy event could also trigger the same result.
Thus, in 2011, a pair of researchers in Switzerland, Christian Templin and Jelena Ghadri, from University Hospital Zurich set up a global registry to track cases of the new syndrome.
They also compiled a database of worldwide attacks which currently holds 1750 patients.
Out of the study, it was realised that some of forms of attack suffered by 20 people was precipitated by happy and joyful events, such as a birthday party, wedding, or the birth of a child.
Author of the study, Dr Jelena Ghadri, resident cardiologist from University Hospital Zurich has therefore called on doctors to enquire about happy events as well as sad, when diagnosing heart problems.
“We have shown that the triggers for ‘broken heart sydrome’ can be more varied than previously thought,” she said.
“A patient is no longer the classic “broken hearted” patient, and the disease can be preceded by positive emotions too.
“Clinicians should be aware of this and also consider that patients who arrive in the emergency department with signs of heart attacks, such as chest pain and breathlessness, but after a happy event or emotion, could be suffering just as much as a similar patient presenting after a negative emotional event.
“Our findings suggest that happy and sad life events may share similar emotional pathways.”
Dr Christian Templin, principle investigator from University Hospital Zurich, has said “Perhaps both happy and sad life events, while inherently distinct, share final common pathways in the central nervous system output, which ultimately lead to broken heart syndrome.”
Women are more at risk of being affected with this condition, as 95 per cent of all patients in the database are female with an average age of 65.