Hollywood glam and the dull realm of human physiology seldom align. Based on information provided by the big screen we would think, for example, that people could scale buildings and leap rooftops, sense impending doom with Swiss accuracy, and even fall in love without doubt, regret, or panic.
One area, however, where show biz accurately reflects cellular biomechanics is the broken heart. As Doug Flutie, former Heisman Trophy winner and star NFL player, learned after his parents died within an hour of each other, there is a well-recognized medical condition of death from a “broken heart.”
The connection between intensely stressful events and acute cardiac problems is an area of active research. In the medical world the term for broken heart, coined about 25 years ago, is takotsubo cardiomyopathy. The latter word “cardiomyopathy” is just a high-dollar way of describing a malfunctioning heart. It is the first word, “takotsubo,” that adds mystery.