Almost everyone suffers heartbreak at some time during their lives. Films, literature, and the theater have tackled the theme for centuries because it is impossible to understand the human condition without it. A broken heart can change your perspective, alter your plans, and affect the choices you make, but can it make you physically sick?
What is Broken Heart Syndrome?
According to the Mayo Clinic, broken heart syndrome is a temporary heart condition brought on by a stressful situation, such as the loss of a loved one, divorce, betrayal, or romantic rejection. This stress-induced cardiomyopathy will exhibit sudden, intense chest pain and shortness of breath caused by the temporary disruption of your heart’s normal pumping in one area of your heart. The surge of stress hormones can trigger the symptoms, but they are usually treatable and will not have long-lasting effects.
Are you at risk?
While a broken heart can occur to anyone, there are certain factors that may increase your risk of experiencing broken heart syndrome:
- Age (more common over 50 years of age)
- Sex (affects more women than men)
- History of neurological disorders, such as seizures or a brain injury
- Mental illness (history of anxiety or depression)
Couples who have been married for many decades have been known to experience broken heart syndrome when one passes away. Many news agencies reported former President George H.W. Bush’s hospitalization days after his wife Barbara’s funeral. Married for 73 years, President Bush was understandably distraught at the loss. Broken heart syndrome is not limited to couples, though. In 2016, actress Debbie Reynolds died just one day after the death of her only daughter, Carrie Fisher.
How to Diagnose Broken-Heart Syndrome
If you experience any chest pain or shortness of breath, you should be seen by a doctor immediately. Your physician can order several tests to rule out heart disease and diagnose broken heart syndrome, including:
- Coronary Angiography (uses dye and x-rays to view the coronary arteries)
- EKG (tests and records the heart’s electric activity)
- Cardiac MRI
- Blood tests (checks for heart damage)
How Medicare Coverage Can Help
If you are eligible for Medicare due to age or disability, Part A and Part B insurance may help cover the costs of diagnosis and treatment of broken heart syndrome.
Medicare Part A
If you are admitted to the hospital due to your symptoms, Part A will help cover the costs of:
- Semi-private room
- General nursing
- Drugs as part of your inpatient treatment
- Hospital services and supplies
Medicare Part B
Part B will help cover the costs of ambulance services if other transportation could endanger your health. It will also cover any medically necessary services or supplies, including doctor and other health care provider services and outpatient care. Medicare Part B will cover screenings and tests necessary to diagnose your condition as long as your doctor accepts assignment.
Medicare Advantage (Part C)
If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, you will have at least the same benefits as Original Medicare, although many MA plans offer additional benefits. For specific details, contact your plan directly.