When Joanie Simpson, a Texas woman was mourning the death of her beloved Yorkshire terrier, doctors treated her for a possible heart attack. They later discovered her symptoms were actually due to a broken heart. Simpson’s 2016 whose medical ordeal was detailed in the New England Journal of Medicine, was diagnosed with Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, a condition commonly associated with the loss of a spouse or child.
The symptoms mimic those of a heart attack and are referred to as “broken-heart syndrome.” The condition is common in women ages 58 to 75 and causes weakening of the left ventricle.
Simpson at the time was stressed due to her son’s impending back surgery, her son-in-law’s unemployment and a property sale. However, it was the loss of her dog named Meha that sent her over the edge.
“The kids were grown and out of the house, so she was our little girl,” Simpson, 62, said.
When the dog was diagnosed with congenital heart failure, Simpson decided it was best to have her euthanized. She later canceled the appointment when the dog seemed to bounce back to health, but Meha died the next day.
“It was such a horrendous thing to have to witness,” Simpson said. “When you’re already kind of upset about other things, it’s like a brick on a scale. I mean everything just weighs on you.”
Shortly after Meha’s death, Simpson woke with back pain that traveled to her chest. She went to an emergency room near her Houston home and was then airlifted to the Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute, Texas Medical Center. Doctors discovered her arteries were clear, indicating her illness was not a heart attack. That is when she was diagnosed with Takotsubo cardiomyopathy and released after two days, and continues to take two heart medications daily.
She said she was not surprised by the diagnosis.
“It is heartbreaking. It is traumatic. It is all of the above,” Simpson said of owning a pet. “But you know what? They give so much love and companionship that I’ll do it again. I will continue to have pets. That’s not going to stop me.”
If you know someone who might like this, please click “Share!”