Posted by: Chris Maloney | November 18, 2011

Broken heart syndrome more common in women – HealthPop – CBS News

"A Frenchman weeps as German soldiers mar...

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Broken heart syndrome more common in women – HealthPop – CBS News.

I must admit I discovered this syndrome back in clinic.  It is far more extensive than the recent report indicates.

In clinic, I met with a woman who experienced heart arrhythmia unresponsive to medication.  She could take enough meds to dull it, but those were making her deathly ill.  So she was looking for an alternative.

As a clinical student, we had already learned that most herbs aren’t as fast acting or as powerfully specific as heart medications.  So I took a complete history and asked for such things as when the arrhythmia occurred.

Strangely (at the time) she told me the arrhythmia first occurred on the “tenth anniversary of my divorce.”  Having the time to explore this further, we got into the dynamics of the divorce and its aftermath.

I think I recommended a multivitamin and requested medical records as a stalling tactic while I tried to figure out what to do for her.  But as we finished up, I asked:  “who do you cry with?”

You would have thought the floodgates had opened.  Fifteen minutes of sobbing later, she told me that she felt isolated and alone and hadn’t talked to any of her friends in months.

I saw her a month later.  She’d made contact with her friends, cried a great deal, and no longer had any noticeable murmur, later confirmed by EKG.

Two things about this case, one really.  I HAD TIME.  I could take a complete history.  I could go off on tangents like how the divorce affected her.  And I could take fifteen more minutes to hold her hand while she sobbed.

I think that the one thing we absolutely must add back into modern medicine is the ability to take time with patients.


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