The exact cause of broken heart is not known, but it may be due to the surge of hormones, such as adrenaline, which temporarily injures the heart, according to the Mayo Clinic. The temporary restriction of the arteries in the heart may play a role.
The cause of broken heart syndrome is usually due to an intense emotional or physical event such as an unexpected death, a natural disaster, a surprise party or a job loss, explains the Mayo Clinic. It is also possible that medications can cause broken heart syndrome. Ephedrine, which is often used to treat a severe allergic reaction, is one such medication. In most cases, broken heart syndrome is more common in women than in men, and it usually affects people over 50.
The symptoms of broken heart syndrome are often the same as a heart attack and include shortness of breath and chest pain, states the Mayo Clinic. These conditions are very different, however, as the cause of a heart attack is due to a blockage in an artery of the heart. This is due to a blood clot forming in an artery that has narrowed from a fatty buildup. With broken heart syndrome, the arteries are not blocked, but the flow of blood may slow or stop due to the restriction of the arteries.