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Polymerase chain reaction is a cornerstone of molecular biology research. Using short pieces of single-stranded DNA called primers the previously invisible becomes tangible.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Medicine: Broken Hearts

For those of us bound for the less fortunate side of Valentine’s Day this year, here is an article from the New England Journal of Medicine. Thanks to Medpundit for the link.

Neurohumoral Features of Myocardial Stunning Due to Sudden Emotional Stress


Background: Reversible left ventricular dysfunction precipitated by emotional stress has been reported, but the mechanism remains unknown.

Methods: We evaluated 19 patients who presented with left ventricular dysfunction after sudden emotional stress. All patients underwent coronary angiography and serial echocardiography; five underwent endomyocardial biopsy. Plasma catecholamine levels in 13 patients with stress-related myocardial dysfunction were compared with those in 7 patients with Killip class III myocardial infarction ...

The good doctors show the coincidence of high levels of stress hormones with cardio myopathy, including chest pain, pulmonary edema, cardiogenic shock and severe left ventricular dysfunction post emotional distress. 18 of the 19 patients showed no evidence of coronary disease. Elevated stress hormone levels returned to normal and left ventricular dysfunction “rapidly resolved” within a few weeks. The doctors propose that exaggerated sympathetic stimulation played a central role in this syndrome.

Your friends and family have always known it. Now the doctors at Johns Hopkins and Brigham and Women's Hospital concur. Love can surely break your heart, but time can just as surely heal it.

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