'Broken Heart Syndrome' Mimics Heart Attack
Abrupt withdrawal from high-dose painkillers such as OxyContin or the use of cocaine can both increase risk of a cardiac event known as 'broken heart syndrome,' according to two studies published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
Broken heart syndrome is a rare disorder that mimics a heart attack, with shortness of breath and chest pain. Most people with the syndrome recovery fully, but some die and others suffer life-threatening complications.
The publication reported a case of a 61-year-old woman who was treated for broken heart syndrome after she abruptly stopped using OcyContin and the case of a 54-year-old woman, a regular crack cocaine smoker, who was treated for the same condition.
Both cases were the first reported cases of these factors contributing to broken heart syndrome.
"Given the drug's prevalence, physicians should proceed with caution when removing patients from high-dose opioids in order to avoid serious complications and hospitalizations," Juanita Rivera, M.D., an anesthesiologist with Mayo Clinic Rochester and lead author of the report, said in a news release.
"The report demonstrates that cocaine use can potentially trigger transient left ventricular apical ballooning, also known as broken heart syndrome, in certain susceptible individuals, but further research is needed to determine other associated risk factors," Dr. Sandeep Arora, an internal medicine specialist at Western Pennsylvania Hospital in Pittsburgh, said.
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