Zurich has the biggest databank in the world documenting “Broken heart syndrome” (BHS). (SRF/swissinfo.chexternal link)
BHS is a recently recognised heart problem, originally reported in Asia in 1990. The condition is often brought on by extreme emotional or physical stress, such as the death of a loved one.
People with broken heart syndrome may experience sudden chest pain or think they're having a heart attack.
BHS causes a temporary disruption of the heart's normal pumping function, and may be caused by the heart's reaction to a surge of stress hormones.
Doctors at University Hospital Zurich estimate that about 5% of people with BHS die in hospital. The hospital keeps files on 1,700 people who have experienced the condition.
Post-menopausal women, particularly in their 60s and 70s, might be at increased risk of suffering broken heart syndrome. It strikes people who often have no previous history of heart disease from Asian and white populations.
Researchers are studying how hormones influence the condition, and the interplay between the heart and brain among sufferers.