Did You Know a Broken Heart Can Lead to Physical Illness and Even Death?

Did You Know a Broken Heart Can Lead to Physical Illness and Even Death?

Did You Know a Broken Heart Can Lead to Physical Illness and Even Death?

The Devastating Impact of Broken Heart Syndrome: A Closer Look

In December 2022, South Africa mourned the loss of Mandla Maphumulo, popularly known as Mampintsha, a member of the music group Big Nuz and a renowned Gqom artist. Tragically, Mampintsha passed away after suffering from a stroke. The heart-wrenching news took an even more devastating turn when, just two weeks later, his mother, Zamanguni Gumede, fell ill and passed away at Wentworth Hospital. The grief of losing her son proved to be too much, and it is believed that she died from a broken heart. This heartbreaking story sheds light on the real condition known as broken heart syndrome or stress cardiomyopathy, which can have severe physical effects on individuals experiencing intense emotional stress.

Broken heart syndrome, also known as Takotsubo syndrome or stress-induced cardiomyopathy, is a condition where the left ventricle weakens due to severe emotional or mental stress. It was first described in the 1990s in Japan. The loss of a loved one, grief, sadness, serious accidents, or natural disasters can trigger this condition. A study conducted by Harvard reveals that the symptoms of broken heart syndrome include chest pain, a sense of pressure or heaviness, fatigue, shortness of breath, cold sweats, and light-headedness. In some cases, individuals may experience less dramatic chest pain and instead exhibit symptoms such as sudden fatigue, shortness of breath, cold sweats, or light-headedness.

The Mechanism Behind Heart Muscle Weakness:

According to a study by Johns Hopkins, when a person undergoes a stressful event, their body produces hormones and proteins, such as adrenaline and noradrenaline, to help them cope with the stress. However, in some cases, the heart muscle becomes overwhelmed by the excess adrenaline. This can lead to the narrowing of the small arteries that supply blood to the heart, resulting in a temporary decrease in blood flow. Additionally, the excess adrenaline may bind to the heart cells and cause an influx of calcium, disrupting the normal beating of the heart.

Insights from Experts:

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Clinical psychologist Sibu Tshangane explains that broken heart syndrome typically manifests after experiences of grief, bereavement, or severe stress. It can also occur as a result of abuse, sudden illness, or recent involvement in a disaster. Symptoms may include sudden and intense chest pains, shortness of breath, and general feelings of sickness. If a medical practitioner suspects Takotsubo syndrome, they will likely conduct specific blood tests to confirm the diagnosis. Additionally, they will inquire about any extreme stress factors, such as the death of a loved one, as part of the evaluation process. Treatment options, including medication, will be recommended based on the diagnosis.


The tragic loss of Mandla Maphumulo, known as Mampintsha, and the subsequent passing of his mother, Zamanguni Gumede, highlights the heartbreaking reality of broken heart syndrome. This condition, triggered by intense emotional stress, can have severe physical consequences. As we reflect on this poignant story, it’s crucial to recognize the impact that grief, stress, and emotional turmoil can have on individuals’ well-being. By understanding broken heart syndrome and its symptoms, we can raise awareness and promote the importance of seeking medical attention and support during challenging times.

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