A broken heart. We've all had one, at least once in our lives. You. Me. Even Ashton and/or Demi. You've probably even heard of people who are said to have "died of a broken heart". But can that really happen?

Well, a new study says, in very rare cases, the answer is yes. A team from the University of Arkansas looked at heart illnesses at 1,000 hospitals across the country. They found more than 6,000 cases of what's called "broken heart syndrome", first described by Japanese doctors in 1990. Based on the Arkansas research, women are up to nine times more likely than men to suffer the condition.

The condition mimics a heart attack, but symptoms usually go away on their own in weeks, leaving no lasting damage. In a few rare cases, though, the syndrome has been blamed for death.

What causes broken heart syndrome? It seems that a major emotional stress - even something as positive as winning a large lottery jackpot - sets off a rush of adrenaline and other stress hormones that cause the heart's main pumping chamber to balloon up. All the symptoms are very similar to a heart attack. But the artery blockage that normally causes one isn't there.

So why are women more likely than men to suffer the syndrome? No one is certain, but some experts believe hormones may be involved. There's also a theory that men may be better able to absorb the adrenaline that causes broken heart syndrome.

The study also notes that around 10 % of broken heart syndrome sufferers will have a second case at some point in their life. And, unlike heart attacks, which are more common in winter, broken heart syndrome happens most often in summer.

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