The loss of a pet can be heartbreaking, but one Houston woman was diagnosed with an actual broken heart after losing her beloved dog.
After her Yorkshire Terrier, Meha, passed away, Joanie Simpson woke up to her back hurting. When she turned over, her chest began to hurt.
She was at an ER twenty minutes later, and when physicians realized she was exhibiting classic signs of a heart attack, Simpson was airlifted to a Houston hospital.
However, testing at Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute -Texas Medical Center revealed that Simpson wasn't actually having a heart attack, but was instead suffering from takotsubo cardiomyopathy. The condition often results after a patient experiences a traumatic loss, such as the loss of a child or a spouse. Its symptoms mimic those of a heart attack, and it's earned the nickname of broken-heart syndrome.
Simpon's case is an eye-opening reminder that people grieve for their pets the same way that they grieve for humans. In fact, a study published in the Veterinary Record found that pet owners who have chronically ill pets displayed higher levels of "caregiver burden" related stress and anxiety.
Simpson, 62, is retired and notes that Meha was like her daughter. When Meha started to have more and more bad days, Simpson made an appointment to have her put to sleep. However, on the day of the appointment, Meha was doing well, so Simpson canceled the appointment. Meha died the next day, but it was a traumatic passing.
"I was close to inconsolable," she told the Washington Post. "I really took it really, really hard."
After spending two days in the hospital, Simpson was sent home. She currently lives in Camp Woods, Texas with a cat named Buster and has yet to connect with another dog.
"It is heartbreaking. It is traumatic. It is all of the above," Simpson said. "But you know what? They give so much love and companionship that I'll do it again. I will continue to have pets. That's not going to stop me."
Pets provide us with many advantages, including reduced stress and companionship. Their passing can be heartbreaking, though, as Simpson's broken heart syndrome so clearly demonstrates. However, most pet lovers will agree that the joy pets give us makes the pain we have to endure at their passing worth it.
Have you ever lost a pet? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments below.
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