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What becomes of the broken hearted? Grief and heartbreak can be terrible, but does a ‘broken heart’ actually hurt our hearts? What can we do when we damage our heart from a heart attack? Join us for a fascinating look at how researchers learn more about the human heart and how we might be able to mend a broken one.
Can you die of a broken heart?
Prof Sian Harding (Head of National Heart and Lung Institute (Imperial College London))
Strong emotion can have devastating effects on the human heart. Bereavement, arguments and threatening situations, as well as strong physical stress, can trigger rapid heart problems. The death of Debbie Reynolds immediately after that of her daughter, Carrie Fisher, is one recent example. However, even happy emotions, like a surprise birthday party or son’s wedding have produced the same effects. What’s going on? I will talk about two diseases: Sudden Cardiac Death and Takotsubo Syndrome, which are both linked to extreme emotion but have very different outcomes.
Healing hearts – What’s the immune system got to do with it?
Dr Susanne Sattler (Research fellow at Imperial College London)
The human heart is notoriously bad at regenerating damaged areas after a heart attack. Instead, a stiff scar replaces dead muscle tissue. In the longterm this may severely impair contractility and can lead to heart failure. The immune system initiates and drives the heart repair process, but a fine balance between inflammation and immune tolerance is essential to reduce scarring and boost regeneration. Scientists all over the world are now trying to find ways to target the right aspect of the immune system at the right point in time to improve healing and regeneration.