SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The recent death of Star Wars star Carrie Fisher and her celebrity mother Debbie Reynolds got us wondering; can someone pass away from a broken heart? Doctors say yes, and so do those we spoke with in Santa Maria.
The death of the 84-year-old is raising questions as to whether "broken heart syndrome" played a role. The medical term for a the syndrome is Stress Cardiomyopathy, and it involves stress hormones like adrenaline.
"In an extremely stressful, especially suddenly stressful state, there is a large amount of release of these hormones and there is a possible toxicity that they can pose to the heart muscle rendering it weak," says Dr. Dina Sparano, a cardiologist with the UH Cleveland Medical Center.
"I think it's possible that someone can pass away from a broken heart." says Deborah Laron, who lives in Santa Maria and believes the two movie stars deaths are linked. "Losing someone you are really tied to can really affect a person, emotionally and physically, it can really do something to a person."
Stress brought on by grief on anxiety can lead to sudden intense chest pain. The symptoms can be similar to a heart attack and can lead to heart failure. It's much more common in women than men, and typically occurs in patients over 50.
"Love is really deep when you care for somebody," says Laron.
While cases involving celebrities typically end in tragedy, experts say most people who suffer from broken heart syndrome make a full recovery.