After Debbie Reynolds' Death, Some Ask: Can You Die Of A Broken Heart?

Some are asking about the condition after actress Debbie Reynolds died Wednesday, just one day after the death of her daughter, Carrie Fisher.
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After Debbie Reynolds' Death, Some Ask: Can You Die Of A Broken Heart?

The son of actress Debbie Reynolds' had some striking words about his mother after she died Wednesday.

"She wanted to be with Carrie," he said.

Reynolds' daughter, "Star Wars" actress Carrie Fisher, died just one day earlier. She went into cardiac arrest on a plane on Dec. 23.

Reynolds died a result of a stroke, but her death sparked questions about whether it's possible to die of a broken heart.

It sounds like the stuff of fairy tales and romantic movies, but some studies say broken heart syndrome, also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy, can happen.

Dr. Ilan Wittstein estimates as many as 10,000 people experience broken heart syndrome each year.

"What we think happens is that the body produces a large amount of these stress hormones, like adrenaline, and when produced in large amounts, it can actually be somewhat toxic to the heart," Wittstein told CBS.

But even more people might suffer from it.

The American Heart Association says doctors can misdiagnose patients with having a heart attack because the symptoms are often similar with broken heart syndrome.

Patients experiencing broken heart syndrome are thought to suffer from chest pain and shortness of breath after a time of physical stress or extreme emotion. But the difference between that and a heart attack is that blocked arteries aren't causing those symptoms.

It's usually treatable, and recovery can be as short as a few days.

The Mayo Clinic says the death of a loved one isn't the only thing that can precede broken heart syndrome. A frightening medical diagnosis, losing a job and even a surprise party can all be potential triggers.

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