Broken-heart Syndrome

broken_heart_-_Google_SearchCan a person die of a broken heart? Will the unexpected loss of a close relative or loved-one create such emotional stress that it jeopardizes the person’s well-being? Don’t people in grief recover sufficiently so that their physical health suffers no lasting effects?

The Mayo Clinic, in a note posted on their website defines Broken-heart syndrome as “a temporary heart condition that’s often brought on by stressful situations, such as the death of a loved one. The condition can also be triggered by a serious physical illness or surgery. People with broken heart syndrome may have sudden chest pain or think they’re having a heart attack. In broken heart syndrome, there’s a temporary disruption of your heart’s normal pumping function in one area of the heart. The remainder of the heart functions normally or with even more forceful contractions. Broken heart syndrome may be caused by the heart’s reaction to a surge of stress hormones. The condition may also be called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, apical ballooning syndrome or stress cardiomyopathy by doctors. The symptoms of broken heart syndrome are treatable, and the condition usually reverses itself in days or weeks.” (Emphasis added)

New Information

In this paragraph, we feel reassured that the condition is only “temporary,” that it is “treatable,” and that it “reverses itself” within a short time. New research from the University of Aberdeen, however, sheds light on these questions. Called Takotsubo cardiomyopathy (“broken-heart syndrome”), this newly identified disease affects some 3,000 people in the UK. Bereavement can trigger the illness. During the stress of bereavement, the heart muscle can weaken to create an inability of the heart to maintain its pumping function. Long-term damage to the heart muscle results.

“Takotsubo is a devastating disease that can suddenly strike down otherwise healthy people,” says Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at British Heart Foundation. “We once thought the effects of this life-threatening disease were temporary, but now we can see they can continue to affect people for the rest of their lives.”

We would hope that doctors can provide us effective medical treatments for Takotsubo, but so far, according to the newest research, none exist.

Understanding Job’s Anguish

Perhaps we can better understand Job’s anguish ion Chapter 3. After the sudden death of his businesses, employees, health and wealth, his heart is broken beyond repair. In Chapter 3, Job seeks the peace of death to life bereft of all meaning. We can understand Job’s sentiments. Well, almost all meaning. Although each of them problematic for Job, still remaining with him through his anguish until the end: his friends, his wife, and God.

When have you lost someone close? Was it recent? Have you had your doctor examine your heart as a result of your bereavement? With your loss, what or who do you have left to be with you to the end?

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About Grose

Gordon Grose loves most to write, speak, and preach on the message of hope from the book of Job. Using drama, video, and PowerPoint, he has preached and presented this message of hope to churches around the country. Grose pastored three congregations 25 years, then served 12 years as a pastoral counselor in a Portland, Oregon counseling clinic. He now serves with Good Samaritan Counseling Services, Beaverton, OR. A graduate of Wheaton College (IL), Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Brandeis University, and Boston University, he comes from a rich and varied background in theological and counseling training. In 2015, Gordon published Tragedy Transformed: How Job's Recovery Can Provide Hope For Yours, a book about turning to Job for hope after tragedy. If you have experienced life challenges or personal tragedy, visit his Transforming Tragedy ( blog to learn more. provides a sample of Gordon's speaking as well as an opportunity to purchase copies of his book.
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