Tara Lepore | Contributing Writer | Monday, 19 June 2017

Heartbreak Can Officially Last Forever And Cause Long-Term Damage, Says Study

A Broken Heart Can Last Forever, Says Science

The Debrief: What becomes of the brokenhearted? They have to live with an actual broken heart, according to this study.

Getting your heart broken can damage the way your heart functions forever, proving that - for some people - time is not actually the greatest healer.

Yep, it’s official, and it sucks: the British Heart Foundation funded a study into ‘broken heart syndrome’, a condition with similar symptons to a heart attack, which affects around 3,000 people in the UK every year (most of whom are women). It’s triggered when a person suffers severe emotional stress (hello, break up) - causing the heart muscle to strain, affecting its ability to contract properly, and restricting its capacity to pump blood around your body.

It's also associated with stress-related grief, with many people experiencing long-term physical damage to their heart after the death of a loved one. 

Researchers from the University of Aberdeen looked at 52 patients suffering from ‘takotsubo syndrome’ - heartache's scientific name - to study the heart in detail to see how sudden levels of extreme stress affected the organ's functionality.

The results don't look good for those of us who take break-ups really badly. Using ultrasound and MRI scans, scientists found that sufferers’ heartbeats slowed down and muscles contractions reduced, remaining abnormal for UP TO FOUR MONTHS afterwards. In some patients, they also found tiny scars which had replaced damaged muscles in the heart, meaning there's a possibility you might never make a full physical recovery from your shitty break-up. Great.

So now that chest-clutching heartbreak is an approved scientific condition, here are some of the best heartbreak references from literature, music and TV which prove that breaking up is, in fact, very hard to do. 

Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

“You loved me - then what right had you to leave me? Because misery and degradation, and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict would have parted us, you, of your own will, did it. I have not broken your heart- you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine." *cue sad string quartet music*. 

Paulie Bleeker, Juno

'You have no reason to be mad at me. You broke my heart.'

Oh, Paulie, expressing his heartbreak and confusion for the first time to his very pregnant on-off girlfriend Juno. It's a happy ending for the couple though, so Paulie might have escaped irreparable heart muscle damage. But still. Aw. 

Mr Darcy, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

"These past few months have been a torment. I came to Rosings with the single object of seeing you. I had to see you. I have fought against my better judgment, my family's expectations, the inferiority of your birth, my rank and circumstance. All these things I am willing to put aside and ask you to end my agony."

(OK, this quote is from the film version, but still. My heart.)

Anna, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

“Love. The reason I dislike that word is that it means too much for me, far more than you can understand."

Ralph Wiggum, The Simpsons

Remember that episode when Ralph didn't get any Valentines Day cards so Lisa made him the 'I Choo-Choo Choose You' one? Guys, she saved him four months of heartbreak-related agony. 

Memoirs of A Geisha by Arthur Golden

"The heart dies a slow death, shedding each hope like leaves until one day there are none. No hopes. Nothing remains."

Sad if true. 

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

"The reason it hurts so much to separate is because our souls are connected."

Or maybe it's because of broken heart syndrome. Just sayin'. </3 

Like this? You might also be interested in: 

Make Up When You’re Going Through A Break Up

The TED Talks To Watch When You’re Going Through A Break Up

Post Break-Up Mistakes You Should Avoid (But Probably Won’t)

Follow Tara on Twitter @taralepore

Tags: Love & Marriage, Health