Similar to a stroke or a massive coronary, broken heart syndrome causes the body to pour out adrenaline and other stress hormones.
This narrows the coronary arteries and impairs blood circulation. It also stuns the bottom half of the main pumping chamber of the heart, forcing the top portion to work much harder to compensate. The lack of oxygenated blood reaching the rest of the body — and indeed the heart — causes breathlessness, pain and a loss of consciousness.
The patient can die as a result of cardiac arrest, causing the brain and body to be starved of oxygen. Victims struggle to breathe, feel weak and have pains in the chest which are typical heart attack symptoms.