Doctor: You really can die of a broken heart

John Snell talks with Dr. Eric Griggs, M.D. about "Broken Heart Syndrome"

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The death of actress and singer Debbie Reynolds, only one day after the death of daughter Carrie Fisher, prompted speculation from fans that she had died of a broken heart.

While the specifics of the 84-year-old's health are not known, doctors say severe stress and emotion trauma can lead to death.

Broken heart syndrome, also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy, can strike even if you're healthy, according to the American Heart Association.

"Women are more likely than men to experience the sudden, intense chest pain — the reaction to a surge of stress hormones — that can be caused by an emotionally stressful event," according to the Heart Association Website.  "It could be the death of a loved one or even a divorce, breakup or physical separation, betrayal or romantic rejection."

Doctors say in broken heart syndrome, a part of your heart temporarily enlarges and fails pump well.

Broken heart syndrome can lead to severe, short-term heart muscle failure.

Younger, healthy people are more likely to be treated successfully, but in rare cases the results can be fatal.

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