One study has suggested that the pandemic has led to an increase in “broken heart syndrome.” The study found that at two Ohio hospitals some patients without coronavirus were experiencing symptoms of stress-induced cardiomyopathy, or “broken heart syndrome.” This suggests that patients are experiencing the emotional and physical toll of the pandemic, as many cases of the syndrome are caused by stress.

Also called Takotsubo syndrome, this condition occurs when the heart muscles weaken, which leads to chest pain and shortness of breath. Researchers compared patients with heart trouble at this time with the same time last year and found a higher rate of broken heart syndrome. Patients were, in fact, two times likelier to have broken heart syndrome during the pandemic. Researchers noted that the economic, physical, social, and emotional stress of the pandemic due to quarantine, physical distance, and economic changes were all factors in the stress.

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“The pandemic has created a parallel environment which is not healthy,” said Dr. Ankur Kalra, the cardiologist who led the study. “Emotional distancing is not healthy. The economic impact is not healthy. We’ve seen that as an increase in non-coronavirus deaths, and our study says that stress cardiomyopathy has gone up because of the stress that the pandemic has created.”

Researchers noted that this study was a small sample size and need to be studied further. Other experts, including the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said in May, “the impact of the pandemic on people’s mental health is already extremely concerning.”

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