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Broken-heart syndrome

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As 72-year-old Mimi Scott knows all too well a troubled mind literally can break your heart. Last year, the TV host and actress was grieving from the death of two of her four dogs when she learned her dear friend Mr. Food, a TV personality, died.

She felt a severe pain in the center of her chest. The symptoms were just like a heart attack but doctors say this was a completely different heart problem.

Dr. Mary Ann McLaughlin, the director of Mount Sinai Medical Center's cardiac health program, says there is no blocked artery; instead, what is found is the heart muscle balloons out. The condition is called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also known as broken-heart syndrome.

"We mostly see this disorder when people are having some kind of stress -- it could be very bad or very good," she says. "So a sudden death of a loved one, a divorce. We've seen people open up a note that there house was under foreclosure."

A photo shows the distinctive shape of a broken heart: narrow at the top and ballooned in the lower portion. The shape closely resembles the Japanese takotsubo pot used to capture octopus, hence the name. The condition typically occurs in post-menopausal women and is brought on by a rush of hormones and adrenaline following a severe emotional event.

Dr. McLaughlin says if if someone has broken heart syndrome it can be treated with the same medications as for heart attacks. Patients will typically recover within a month.

Mimi says she has made peace with her losses and is putting her love into family and her two surviving pups.

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