Another Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and Brittany Thornton has survived the holiday as if she’d had it all. A not-so-small feat that made her almost die from a broken heart.
“It felt like my heart was on the outside of my body, it was beating really fast,” said Thornton. “They came in, all wearing white coats, saying you had severe heart failure. And I look around like, are they talking to me? Because there is no possible way. And that’s what they diagnosed me with.”
Dr. Viviana Navas is a heart failure specialist at the NCH Heart Institute; “Medically, we call it stress cardiomyopathy.”
Navas had seen it before. In colloquial terms, this condition is known as “broken heart syndrome”.
People who experience extreme emotional trauma can experience sudden, severe heart failure.
“It involves a very stressful situation,” says Navas. “So some people who are doing well, suddenly hear bad news, or go through a very stressful situation, then develop grief. , cardiomyopathy.”
Thornton’s heartbreaking story begins like a fairy tale. She is a 25 year old dancer for the NBA.
During halftime of the Charlotte Hornets game in 2019, her boyfriend proposed right on center court. The hilarious video went viral.
The pair eventually split, and that breakup led to a health crisis for Thornton.
She said, “You make a commitment; you promise someone that you will spend the rest of your life with them. And if that doesn’t work, you know, it’ll reroute you and it’ll startle you. I mean rewind your entire nervous system. ”
Young and healthy, she ignored the symptoms of heart failure: chest tightness, palpitations, and weakness. By the time she sought medical help, her heart was already suffering beyond repair.
“They let me catheterize my heart, they see my function, my heart is 15% left. It has been twice magnified to double the size it was supposed to be. “
She has been shortlisted for a transplant.
At age 25, an external device pumped her heart until she was able to get a new one. Six weeks later, Thornton underwent surgery to replace her ailing heart.
“I thought the surgery was at exactly 10 o’clock,” she recalls. “And you know, you sign the waiver, you sign your life, you might wake up, you might not.”
The diagnosis of broken heart syndrome mainly comes from ruling out other causes.
The tests look for blockages in the arteries and use an electrocardiogram to determine if a patient is having a heart attack. A notable feature is that the lower left ventricle is distorted.
“Shortly after the transplant, they took the natural heart and the pathologists, that’s what they found. So the left ventricle has swollen a lot. It’s basically like a rubber band, it’s unbeatable once it’s stretched, it can’t go back to its natural shape.”
The previous diagnosis was so rare that it even doubted its existence. Since the pandemic, stress cardiomyopathy has increased dramatically.
“I see at least 10 to 15 cases a year, and it’s usually in women, older women,” says Dr. Navas.
Thornton is an exception in many ways. Most people get help right away and the condition is treated before it leads to heart failure. Young and strong, she never doubted her heart was dying. Three years later, she is up and running. With gratitude.
“I wasn’t born with it,” Thornton added, “But you know, forever woven into who I am.”
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https://www.winknews.com/2022/02/18/former-nba-dancer-recovers-from-broken-heart-syndrome-and-heart-transplant/ Former NBA dancer recovering from ‘broken heart syndrome’ and heart transplant