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Dying of a broken heart sounds like the ending of a sad love story. But, it actually happens. The “broken heart syndrome,” usually affects people who have received very bad news. “Broken heart syndrome” is officially called Takotsubo syndrome, or TTS. It involves the sudden weakening of heart muscles. The signs of TTS are chest pain and shortness of breath. Although rare, it can lead to heart attacks and death. Recently, researchers discovered that even happy events can cause TTS. Christian Templin and Jelena Ghadri are with University Hospital Zurich. For five years, they and a team of researchers tracked 1,750 cases of TTS across nine countries. The team found that emotional shocks caused TTS in 485 of those 1,750 cases. And within that group of 485, a total of 20 people could be said to have suffered from “happy heart syndrome.” The events that caused “happy heart syndrome” include a birthday party, a surprise celebration and the birth of a grandchild. However, none of these cases of “happy heart syndrome” caused death. Ghadri and her team published their findings in the European Heart Journal. They found that TTS affects mostly women. About 95 percent of the patients in both the “broken heart” and “happy heart” groups are women. Happy and sad life events are, of course, very different. Further studies are needed to figure out if both kinds of TTS events share the same pathway in the central nervous system.