Debbie Reynolds' death sheds light on broken heart syndrome

Debbie Reynolds, born in 1932, died Wednesday just one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher (MGN Online)

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- A lot of people are asking if you can really die from a broken heart after Debbie Reynolds died just one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, passed away.

According to the American Heart Association, broken heart syndrome is a real thing and can strike even the healthy.

The syndrome is also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy, according to AHA. (Tako tsubo, by the way, are octopus traps that resemble the pot-like shape of the stricken heart.)

They wrote that women are more likely than men to experience the sudden, intense chest pain, which is the reaction to a surge of stress hormones, that can be caused by an emotionally stressful event; such as the death of a loved one, a divorce, breakup, betrayal, or romance rejection.

It could even happen after a good shock (like winning the lottery.)

The American Heart Association writes that it's often misdiagnosed as a heart attack because the symptoms are so similar.

But, unlike a heart attack, there's no evidence of blocked heart arteries in broken heart syndrome. And in broken heart syndrome, symptoms occur suddenly after extreme emotional or physical stress.

The syndrome is usually treatable but the rare cases can be fatal.

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