What is ‘Broken Heart Syndrome’, and did Debbie Reynolds Die From It?

What is ‘Broken Heart Syndrome’, and did Debbie Reynolds Die From It?

This past week has been hard on Hollywood. Two mega stars – Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds – died, adding to the list of celebrities to leave us in 2016.

What makes the tragic deaths of Reynolds and Fisher stand apart from others is their timing.  The mother-daughter duo died just one day apart.

Reynolds, 84, passed away on December 28th, 2016 just a day after Fisher, who left us at the young age of 60.

While Reynolds is said to have died after suffering a stroke and Fisher struggled with drug addiction and suffered from heart problems just days before she passed away, some wonder if more than medical conditions were at play,

Related: This Type of Heart Attack is Targeting Otherwise Healthy Young Women

Is it possible that Reynolds actually died of grief?


It might sound like an old wives tale, but a little research says that yes, it’s possible.

Whether or not this actually happened to the Singing in the Rain star is up for grabs, but it’s possible.

Grief can affect your heart and it has a name.

What is Broken Heart Syndrome?

Given that she died so soon after losing her daughter, Debbie Reynolds may have died of something called “Broken Heart Syndrome” (BHS). BHS is described by the American Heart Association as something that can strike anyone.

Related: How Does an MRI Work?

You might experience Broken Heart Syndrome if you suffer through an extremely stressful event, which could be the death of a loved one, a divorce, or anything described as emotionally “heart breaking”.


If you suffer from Broken Heart Syndrome, your heart stops working properly, as part of it enlarges and, furthermore, quits pumping well. A surge of stress hormones causes the change. It leaves the rest of the heart functioning normally, or with even more forceful contractions, but it can be dangerous.

You can be treated for Broken Heart Syndrome and most people who suffer from it recover within weeks, but in rare cases- maybe Reynolds’- it can be fatal.


Broken Heart Syndrome might seem like a heart attack in the moment, but the actual symptoms are different. With BHS, your EKG results don’t look the same as those for a person having a heart attack. Your blood tests show no signs of heart damage, and furthermore, there is no evidence of blockages in the arteries.

Related: Being Lonely Isn’t Just Emotional- It Could Actually Be Bad for Your Heart and Head

Despite all this however, tests will show ballooning and ‘unusual movement’ in the lower left chamber of the heart.

Interestingly, Broken Heart Syndrome affects women in much greater numbers than men, maybe a result of our hormonal differences, or different ways our bodies respond to stress.


Was it truly a broken heart that took Debbie Reynolds? Or was it other factors connected with grief? Was she not eating or taking her regular medications and this caused her death?

It’s hard to say. Regardless, Reynolds and Fisher will live on in the hearts of many as amazing stars who brought the screen to life.

If you or someone you know is suffering through emotional times, talk to your doctor.

Facebook Comments