Broken Heart Syndrome is Real

Broken hearts is the stuff of romance novels, movies and soap operas…

“The only thing a boyfriend was good for was a shattered heart.”

Becca Fitzpatrick, “Crescendo

“A broken heart is just the growing pains necessary so that you can love more completely when the real thing comes along.”J.S.B. Morse, “Now and at the Hour of Our Death

“Doctoring her seemed to her as absurd as putting together the pieces of a broken vase. Her heart was broken. Why would they try to cure her with pills and powders?”

Leo Tolstoy, “Anna Karenina


Broken Heart Syndrome

Literature and fictional portrayals aside, there are many aspects of society that cause a true broken heart.  The most familiar is the romantic sense. I’ve been there a couple of times and it took such a long time to recover, I chose not to entertain the possibility again. It is a grief no one wants. As the walking wounded person, you want to insulate yourself from everything and everyone, aimlessly looking for purpose again. However, the walking wounded do recover and can flourish again.

However, there are true broken hearts of the physical variety.  This is a bona fide medical condition which has several names. One is “broken heart syndrome,” Another is “apical ballooning syndrome.” Still other terms are “stress induced cardiomyopathy” and  takotsubo cardiomyopathy.”  

It all began in 1990 with a Japanese physician who took an image of the heart of an afflicted patient and thought that it resembled the shape of a “Tako-tsubo” the name for a ceramic pot Japanese fisherman use to capture octopus. 


What happens?   Symptoms begin with chest pain and shortness of breath and can mimic a heart attack. The disruption of heart pumping, known as a “stunning” or a surge of stress hormones is actually acute heart failure caused by a lack of female estrogen hormones which are short-lived in nature. The left heart ventricle is the main chamber pumping the blood OUT of the heart to the remainder of the body. It temporarily cannot pump the blood forward, resulting in poor circulation, shock, or death.

This condition differs from a heart attack in that a traditional heart attack causes a nearly complete or full blockage of a heart artery due to a blood clot resulting in the narrowing caused by fatty buildup (atherosclerosis) in the artery wall. Broken heart Syndrome blood flow is reduced, not blocked. Other cases have been reported after general anesthesia, transplantation surgery, general surgery.

Complications can include accumulation of fluid into your lungs (pulmonary edema), Low Blood Pressure, Arrhythmia, or Heart Failure.

Women are Most Vulnerable

The incidence of Broken Heart Syndrome is far greater for women, 90% as compared to men;

Women between the age of 58 and 75 (median age, 63) comprise 90% of all reported case;

Cardiologists are now more aware of it with  approximately 5% of women being evaluated for a possible heart attack;

Those with a previous neurologic condition such as seizures, of brain injury or are at greater risk of broken heart syndrome;

Potential Causes

According to a 2017 article from the Mayo Clinic the following are typical causes of BHS: “Broken heart syndrome is often preceded by an intense physical or emotional event.” Some potential triggers of broken heart syndrome are:

  • News of an unexpected death of a loved one
  • A frightening medical diagnosis
  • Domestic abuse
  • Losing — or even winning — a lot of money
  • Strong arguments
  • A surprise party
  • Having to perform publicly
  • Job loss
  • Divorce
  • Physical stressors, such as an asthma attack, a car accident or major surgery

ADDITIONS TO THE LIST- I would add: Homicide, Missing Persons, Sexual assault- Rape, Home Invasion, Kidnapping,  Intimate Partner- Family Violence, Suicide 

The Good News-

Irrespective of it’s initial serious nature, medical documentation from several sources reveal that Broken Heart Syndrome is often rapidly reversible to normal, usually within 14 days. Most patients recover with no long-term damage within a month. And, there is only a small chance that BHS will recur. There is no proven therapy to prevent BHS.  However, eliminating stress is the most common recommendation for prevention.

Medical experts believe that there is a strong connection between brain functions affecting the heart. In fact many seemingly healthy people have suddenly died during a disaster- traumatic event.  Such causes are still not fully understood. Apparently, the media has not  made the connection when reporting these events.  

Thank you, Judy Rust-

Patrick Rust

Sgt. Patrick Rust

A mother’s quest to find the truth about her murdered son! “The systems”  failed Judy Rust over and over. She needs peace in her heart about her son, former Sgt. Patrick Rust who was murdered in 2007. Numerous injustices occurred over time with this still unsolved case.  Rather than peace, she experienced Broken Heart Syndrome after the murder of her son which she shares on this recent Shattered Lives Podcast.  We wish her continued better health and answers to  resolution for this case!  

To listen to her podcast click this link-



Donna R. Gore, M.A.

Donna R. Gore, M.A.


To schedule a presentation with me at your future event or  conference please contact:

ImaginePublicity,  Telephone: 843.808.0859  Email:




A grandes males, grandes remedies! Gang culture will not be tolerated…


A grandes males, grandes remedies!

(Big Troubles Call for Big Remedies!)

Gang culture will not be tolerated…

According to the Gospels, when Jesus heard that John the Baptist had been killed, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place near Bethsaida. The crowds followed Jesus on foot. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. The disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

Jesus said,“But we only have five loaves of bread and two fish for them,” said the disciples.  Jesus directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fishes and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Jesus and the disciples gave the loaves and fishes to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. Approximately five thousand men, in addition to women and children were fed that miraculous day!

What a life lesson! Miracles do occasionally happen. One such miracle is the miracle of the MAG Coalition. The heart and soul of this organization is Yuli Alonso Garza and her community in Imperial Valley, California.  From the tragedy and loss of her beloved son, Martin Alberto Garza, a better quality of life away from gang culture is being fostered! The community has embraced this cause wholeheartedly for the betterment of all  and much has been accomplished since that dark night of January 6, 2013 when Martin’s life was snuffed out.

The next chapter, the judicial chapter, has stalled like a sputtering engine starting and stopping, causing  much frustration.  However, the Garza family rises above and looks to God. They are hopeful and confident, relying on the wisdom of a higher power and faith in the criminal justice system.  It is at this intersection, once a trial and eventual sentencing date is set, that a victim impact statement can be provided to the court from families like the Garzas. The statement customizes their thoughts and feelings and creates a lasting, positive, impact,  painting a true picture and presence in the courtroom for who the victim truly was!  (Victim Impact Assistance Service available)

Shattered Lives Radio welcomed Yuli Garza  back for a special update following the initial show. Please listen to the Podcast of the original radio show for more detail about Yuli’s son, Martin, and the case at hand.  The outcome has yet to be revealed. Patience is a virtue, and the Garza family is virtuous, and we are hopeful that they will be victorious.


·         Introduction to our guest;

·         A stellar 17 year old  with a full life ahead of him and abruptly stuck down

·         The importance of MEN getting involved in the lives of their children and communities

·         Are gangs glamorized in Southern California?

·         The Letterman Jacket program “GO BIG OR GO HOME FUN RAISER” – a model activity

·         The court process and the importance of the California Gang Enhancement Statutes: “The California Step Act:”

·         A new reality…

·         CONTACT INFO:
MAG Coalition    PO BOX 1639  Brawley, California 92227



Questions- Preguntas!

·         What were some of the qualities that made Martin such a special young man?

·         What were the circumstances surrounding the crime?

·         How did the family cope?

·         How does the highest unemployment rate impact crime in the Imperial Valley?

·         What is the easiest way to acquire funds for kids?

·         Is rehabilitation and prevention part of the MAG Coalition?

·         What was the pilot program about concerning the Letterman Jacket program?

·         What does the blue and gold colors represent?

·         What kinds of community partners have joined and what has been the benefit to students?

·         What is the significance of the Gang enhancement statutes to the Garza’s case?

·         What does “one day at a time“ truly mean now over a year later?

·         How did Yuli commemorate the first anniversary of Martin’s death and a future project?

·         What is her long range goal for MAG?


The comments expressed on this website or on the broadcasts of Shattered Lives do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of the hosts, producers, or other guests.

A grandes males, grandes remedies! Gang culture will not be tolerated…

The “Maze” of Crime Scene Investigation According to Pete Valentin

The maze of Longleat House

The maze of Longleat House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“They want to have answers … This is a difficult one….” Dr. Henry C. Lee

In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm… in the real world all rests on perseverance.” 

 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It is at the crossroads in which ideas intersect with perseverance that things get done. However, when it comes to solving crimes, whether determining a suicide, homicide or accidental death, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it, and if there is one important message from our guest, Peter Valentin, a forensic scientist, former Connecticut State Police detective, crime scene investigator, and professor at the Henry Lee Institute of Forensic Science, is that “slow and steady” generally wins the race.”

Never before in the history of civilization has life been so complex, so multi-layered, and fraught with policies, procedures, bureaucracies, legal considerations and ways in which the solving of a case can go wrong.  Citizens are given a steady stream of media messages that justice and answers should be quick and “figured out before the next commercial,” but not so in real life. The secret is to combine the best of both worlds; combining old fashioned detective, tried and true, methods with “science and gadgetry” as appropriate.

“Shattered Lives”  interviewed Pete Valentin for a second time, learning still more about the intricacies involved in crime scene investigation. Join us for this fascinating show!

Listen to the Podcast

  • Intimate Partner Violence PSA by Amy Robinson

    Peter Valentin

    Peter Valentin

  • Introduction to our guest, Peter Valentin
  • What is a prerequisite skill prior to getting to the “nitty-gritty” investigation?
  • Thought processes…the many aspects – detective work, scientific work and thinking beyond the obvious
  • Delilah asks about why many investigators rush to judgment by ruling a case a suicide versus a homicide and how can we prevent it?
  • Looking beyond the information and the source…
  • The importance of credible information and not taking short cuts…
  • There should be one standard of investigation and family involvement
  • The beginnings of an A to Z thorough investigation…
  • The first person on the scene….
  • Preservation of the crimes scene versus saving of a life…Which is more important?
  • What to know about witnesses and securing the scene….
  • People who make the discovery,  their recall and manipulation of the scene
  • Delilah on the interpretation of evidence and transfer… So many steps by so many people…
  • “After the emergency is over, I must leave…”
  • Search warrants- Carte blanche?
  • Documentation process- What’s involved?
  • Photography and videotaping…
  • Delilah asks about cold cases and the importance of preserving evidence…
  • DNA preservation…. What enhances, what destroys?
  • Ladyjustice asks if there is a benchmark or time period to be considered “Cold?”
  • Ladyjustice brings up the issue of backlogs and Pete’s strategies to deal with it…
  • Becoming smarter…. and collaborating…
  • The problem with integration and interpretation…
  • Advocacy- Sometimes less is more….
  • Doing tests- The best way to educate about the limitations of forensic science is ____?
  • Example – The Casey Anthony Trial and Duct Tape…
  • DNA and its probative value…
  • Ladyjustice asks about what crime victims can do to move a cold case along?
  • Questioning everything you believe on the “second look” – fact versus opinions
  • Less than forthcoming witnesses and attitudes over time….
  • Pete’s parting messages re the nature of Crime Scene Investigation….
  • Closing Intimate Partner Violence PSA by Amy Robinson

Questions for the Audience

  • How many sub-specialties are needed to be a competent crime scene analyst?
  • What is the difference between bringing your experience to the scene and “creating a bias?”
  • What is the hierarchy of assumptions as to the possible manner of death – Homicide, suicide or accidental death?
  • What is the important distinction between a county coroner and a forensic examiner?
  • Do you secure the scene or document as your first steps?
  • What is the responsibility of first responders initially re “transient evidence?”
  • What’s involved in a walk through?
  • What’s Pete’s opinion regarding narrated videotaping?
  • In the matter of cold cases, what’s the most important factor?
  • How long can preserved evidence last?
  • What is Pete’s definition of a “Cold Case?”
  • What’s the real issue with evidence and backlog?
  • What’s the threshold for solvability re crime scene examiners?
  • How do you manage the expectations of juries?

The comments expressed on this website or on the broadcasts of Shattered Lives do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of the hosts, producers, or other guests.

 The “Maze” of Crime Scene Investigation According to Pete Valentin

The Multi-Faceted Aspects of Murder- A Tutorial of “Murder 101”


At this point in time, in our American history, we are on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination.  In 1963, we all were struck by a plethora of emotions – shock, disbelief, anger, incredible sadness and overwhelming collective grief. Why?  In my opinion, this President represented all that was new and spurred our hopes for a bright future. JFK captivated the nation and the world!  But… in truth, we didn’t know him personally. However, he captivated us as if he was a family member.  Just imagine… if a “political stranger’s” death can affect us in such a way, what must it be like when murder happens to our immediate family and friends?  That is the question… and the real life situation that tries many people’s souls.  How do we understand this type of loss as compared to other types?

“Shattered Lives” hosts invited as their guest, psychologist Alyssa Rheingold, Ph.D. of the National Crime Victims Center located at the Medical University of South Carolina to discuss such issues and try to answer the hard questions based upon her research and expertise.


  • Intimate Partner Violence PSA by Amy Robinson
  • Introduction to our guest
  • An overview of what homicide looks like…
  • LJ asks why there is not more research on homicide.
  • Alyssa explains what the Medical University of South Carolina offers
  • If you can’t come in…. they have clinicians that go to the home and do community visits
  • “These victims need more than a support group”- a hole in the needs of an underserved populationrheingold_13
  • Trainings and their program as a model
  • The level of preconceived planning – the crux of the terms murder versus homicide
  • Signs and symptoms common in homicide
  • Some variables- Stigma, law enforcement, media involvement,
  • Intensity, recovery time, greater risk of having other mental health problems
  • Delilah marvels about inner strength, the human spirit, rebounding and “coming to a fork in the road” What is it about the makeup of people?
  • Alyssa responds about resiliency – the factors involved
  • Ladyjustice personally “figuring out a way to cope successfully with homicide”
  • Ladyjustice asks about other problem areas that people may not always recognize
  • Example – When the breadwinner is murdered
  • When you begin to heal… and then the trial…
  • The dilemma of religion when a homicide occurs
  • Therapists working with homicide victims – Are they qualified?
  • Prolonged grief- What is it and what is done to get “unstuck?”
  • Discussion of positively reinforcing behaviors
  • LJ asks about progress of the trial and amount of grief– Are they emotionally linked.
  • What do you do with victims whose cases have gone cold? “Life on hold”
  • Delilah asks about families of missing persons and no “event” to overcome.
  • Discussion of those who need and respond best to counselling versus others
  • The problems with “friends”
  • Working with families and different styles of grieving
  • The holidays-  The stress and the grief
  • Alyssa’s advice:   “No shoulds” “Anything goes”  as long as it isn’t harmful
  • Being alone versus support on anniversary days and holidays…
  • Plan ahead for integrating your loved one into the holiday in some way
  • Entering the homicide support group setting- What it’s like? The bond of loss…
  • Alyssa’s advice – You are not alone… there is support and help out there if you reach out.
  • Discussion of Parents of Murdered Children (POMC ) and other victims beyond parents
  • Contact Information:  Dr. Alyssa A. Rheingold, Ph.D. c/o National Crime Victims Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina E-mail:

Questions for Listeners

  • How many people are killed via homicide each year?
  • How did their level of care at MUSC start?
  • What does their model of service consist of?
  • What’s the difference between the terms homicide versus murder?
  • How are my symptoms of grief with the passing of “Aunt Betty” different from grief in a homicide?
  • Are some people more prepared to withstand homicide- Why, or why-not?
  • Examples of cases- Managing beyond the system- What other complications can occur?
  • Do you have to “forgive” in order to move on?
  • What does an assessment for counseling entail?
  • How can victims work on their acceptance of the homicide?
  • How do you find enjoyment in things that remind you of your loved one?
  • Is there a medication for grief?
  • What are “okay” behaviors in grieving versus the need- timetable for counselling?
  • How can we get through the holidays in a better way after such a loss?
  • How can you feel more comfortable in a support group?
  • Where can you find a support group if you are not in a big city?

 The Multi-Faceted Aspects of Murder- A Tutorial of “Murder 101”

The comments expressed on this website or on the broadcasts of Shattered Lives do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of the hosts, producers, or other guests.