A Case of Broken Heart

December 11th, 2011
by Alfonso Ebanks

[private] v9-12-Our IslandsOn the 15 of August of this year my sister Hebie died after many years of fighting a cancer that eventually got the best of her. Next day she was laid to rest in a serene spot in her adopted home of La Ceiba. There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that the person most affect by her death was our younger sister Glenna. Our younger sister became depressed and spent most of the following two and half months’ grief stricken and crying every day, all day long.

About a week after the crying stopped she began to smile again and in spite of the fact that she had lost her legs to diabetes she seemed jovial and was ready to take her place in the Seventh Day Adventist church where she held song service almost all the time. The apparent happiness and wellbeing did not last long, shortly afterwards she was taken to a hospital with shortness of breath and after the doctors supposedly tried everything she died, almost thee months to the day after her sister. The doctors claimed that her kidneys went bad and her heart then became defective and the shortness of breath was caused by fluid in the lungs.

My sister had been under doctor care for her diabetes and had only a few months earlier seen a cardiologist for a routine check of her heart. What I find incredible is that the test made after she became ill showed a much enlarged heart. How could this serious condition have been overlooked by a cardiologist and how could a heart become so large in only a few months? I don’t know much about medicine but I know that the heart is a muscle and like all muscles when under constant stressed it will increase in size, but it takes time for this to happen. The doctors had no firm answers for us.

After doing some research I have came to the conclusion that my younger sister died from grief and bereavement. This may sound quite melodramatic but there is a medical term for just such a disease, it’s called “Broken Heart Syndrome” or Tacoksubo cardiomayopathy. In a recent article it was described as a condition brought on by a shock or heavy stress that triggers a rush of adrenaline and other stress hormones that causes the main pumping chamber of the heart to balloon-out impairing its function.

People with this condition had clinical depression that included chest pain, dyspnoea (shortness of breath) and cardiogenic shock. For many years I have heard people say things like: he/she won’t last long, about one spouse after the death of another spouse especially older couples that had been together for many years. The psychologist and author Dorothy Rowe once admitted that she thought that heartbreak was an empty cliché until she went through the experience herself as an adult. In a recent study it was determined that of the cases studied in one giving year of people with heartbreak syndrome only ten percent were males and it also showed that women over 55 were more prone to this kind of heart problems. My sister was 59 years old, but she could not live with the loss of her 61 year old sister. They were closer than any sisters I have ever known.

I think my brother Olsen summed it up when he said to me: She cried herself to death. We have lost two sisters in three months, one died from a disease and the other from a broken heart. [/private]

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