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'Broken heart' syndrome linked to cancer and brain's reaction to stress, research finds

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However, researchers were unable to determine if the decrease in communication between the brain and the heart was the cause of TTS or vice versa because they didn’t have MRI scans of the TTS patients’ brains at the time they developed the condition.

“Our results suggest that additional studies should be conducted to determine whether this is a causal relationship,” Dr. Jelena Ghadri, a senior research associate at the University Hospital Zurich and co-author of the study said.

“We hope this study offers new starting points for studying TTS in terms of understanding that it much more than ‘broken heart’ syndrome and clearly involves interactions between the brain and the heart, which are still not fully understood,” Ghadri continued.

Symptoms of TTS — chest pain and shortness of breath — are similar to those of a heart attack.

BROKEN HEART SYNDROME: COULD IT HAPPEN TO YOU?

“When you see this disease, takotsubo cardiomyopathy or the broken heart syndrome, there’s an exorbitant amount of stress and all of those stress hormones you feel in your head get released into your body and it almost causes your heart to be stunned, these hormones in this stunned moment look like a heart attack,” Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a cardiologist, previously told Fox News.

Many people recover quickly from TTS, though in some rare cases it can be deadly. Steinbaum recommends anyone who experiences symptoms — such as shortness of breath, chest pain or palpitations — to see a doctor immediately.

TTS is more closely associated with sad events like the death of a loved one or the loss of a job, but intensely happy events such as a wedding or winning a lot of money are also linked to the condition.

DOES WATCHING THE SUPER BOWL RAISE YOUR RISK OF A HEART ATTACK?

Furthermore, an international study from July also linked TTS with cancer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Woman battling brain cancer away from home receives special snow message: 'Mom be brave'

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“A beautiful message was left at our main campus today,” the clinic tweeted. “To the person who wrote it, you’ve touched our hearts. #MomBeBrave.”

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What is asthma? What to know about the respiratory condition

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How is it treated?

In short: It depends.

“Everyone is a bit different, so treatment has to be tailored to the individual,” said Kaza. “In general, if there are any factors that are found to be triggers, the first step is to avoid those triggers. For example, if that adorable adopted cat who makes you sneeze sleeps on your pillow most nights, it may be a good idea to convince her to sleep in a different room. If you have a chronic postnasal drip from an allergy to pollen or from a deviated septum, it’s important to treat those issues as well.”

“For the disease process directly, we use medications that relax the muscles around the passages that lead to lungs so patients can breathe more easily. In addition, we use medications that reduce the inflammation in the lungs to prevent future asthmatic episodes and help treat symptoms. For patients with moderate to severe disease, we have an exciting new class of medications, commonly referred to as ‘biologics,’ that have been game-changers in treating this disease.”

Are children more prone to it?

“Yes, children tend to be more prone to asthma,” she said. “In the U.S, there are 25 million patients with asthma and of these 7 million are children (and remember, a lot of the adults in that group of 25 million patients are people who had it as a child). Asthma is one of the most common chronic disease processes in children.”

The rate that children in America are developing the condition is “steadily increasing,” according to the Cleveland Clinic. But researchers aren’t totally sure why that is. Not being exposed to enough childhood illnesses that strengthen the immune system may be one reason. Lower rates of breastfeeding could also be a factor, as could children being exposed to “more and more allergens” such as dust, air pollution and second- and sometimes third-hand smoke, as per the clinic.

Children are generally more prone to asthma.

Children are generally more prone to asthma.
(iStock)

Can you outgrow asthma?

Yes, says Kaza — but having asthma as a child could increase your risk for a flare-up later in life.

“In some people, asthma may lay dormant for years, then something in their environment may suddenly reactivate it as an adult,” she said.

Why is asthma dangerous?

Though manageable for many people, asthma can be dangerous. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates that 10 Americans die each day from the respiratory condition, noting that “many of these deaths are avoidable with proper treatment and care.”

“There is a huge amount of variability in the severity of asthma,” explained Kaza. “For most patients, it is a manageable chronic disease process. However, in some people, it can be dangerous and unfortunately, has led to death. Biologics, the newest class of medications to help patients with the moderate-severe disease, have been game-changers for many of these patients with more extensive disease.”