Women More Likely to Have 'Broken Heart Syndrome'

By MARILYNN MARCHIONE | November 16, 2011 | 1:50 PM EST

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Doctors say a woman's heart breaks more easily than a man's.

A nationwide study finds that females are more likely to suffer "broken heart syndrome," when sudden or prolonged stress causes overwhelming heart attack-like symptoms.

It happens when a surge of adrenaline and other stress hormones cause the heart's main pumping chamber to balloon and not work right. Usually patients recover with no lasting damage after a few weeks, but in rare cases it proves fatal.

No one knows why it is more common in women, but hormone differences may play a role.

The study was discussed Wednesday at an American Heart Association conference in Florida.