To all the grieving people out there: Watch that left ventricle!
People do actually die of a broken heart. There are many famous examples, including the actress Debbie Reynolds, singer Johnny Cash, and the American writer Jim Harrison.
‘Broken-heart syndrome’ — Takotsubo cardiomyopathy — is a weakening of the left ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber.
One of main causes is severe emotional and physical stress from the loss of a loved one.
HORMONES HIT HARD
Surging stress hormones (e.g. adrenaline) “stun” the heart, triggering changes in heart muscle cells and/or coronary blood vessels that prevent the left ventricle from contracting effectively.
Takotsubo symptoms — chest pain and shortness of breath — are indistinguishable from those of a heart attack. Most cases occur in women between the ages of 58 and 75. The condition was first described in 1990 in Japan. (Source: Harvard Medical School)
Debbie Reynolds died of a stroke one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher died of a heart attack in 2016. Debbie’s last words were:
“I miss her so much, I want to be with Carrie.”
Johnny Cash died four months after his beloved wife June Carter Cash died of heart surgery complications in 2003.
Johnny was being treated for diabetes, which extreme grief turned into a deadly condition.
Jim Harrison died of a heart attack at the age of 78 in 2016, a little over five months after the death of his wife Linda. “After she died,” Harrison said of his wife of 55 years, “I was so depressed I was thinking of suicide.”
Just hours after ‘Dr Who’ actress Mary Tamm died of cancer in 2012, her husband Marcus Ringrose died. He had just delivered the eulogy at Mary’s funeral and was sitting at his computer writing thank you notes to those who had sent condolences.
Doug Flutie’s parents
The parents of former Boston College football star and NFL quarterback Doug Flutie passed away within minutes of one another in 2015. Flutie’s father Richard died of a heart attack and less than an hour later, his mother Joan, devastated from the loss, also suffered a fatal heart attack.
There are countless other less famous broken-heart deaths.
”I’m coming with you.”
British couple George and Pat Pittman were married for 55 years after first meeting on a blind date and then marrying on Valentine’s Day, 1959. As Pat lay dying in a hospital bed in 2015, George whispered to her, “Close your eyes, I’m coming with you.” Twenty one hours later George died.
”All he wanted was to be with her.”
Californian couple Don and Maxine Simpson died four hours apart in August of last year. Don had held Maxine’s hand during her final hours and after her body was removed from the room, Don also died. “All he wanted was to be with his beautiful wife,” a grandson said. “He loved her to the end of the earth.”