A Possible Mechanism for the "Broken Heart" Syndrome
In the newest edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, US scientists from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland said that it is possible for people to die from the stress of a broken heart. Life altering events such as the death of a loved one or a sudden surprise may trigger a sudden release of "fight or flight" response hormones (see news reports: 1 and 2).
Many of these people had stress hormone levels much higher than expected. This suggests that they may have had a transient desensitization of their heart receptors due to the high levels of these hormones, which are normally produced by our bodies.
In our studies of receptor desensitization, we've seen a similar mechanism (see Science and Bio Balance Reference). It isn't too surprising that it hasn't been noticed before in humans because most doctors don't expect this effect to occur. Also desensitization is counterintuitive, because the higher the dose or concentration of an activating hormone or drug, the lower the response. In our studies using drugs that stimulate the heart, the responses fell well below baseline levels when these drugs desensitize the heart thereby profoundly decreasing the cardiac output. Theoretically, this process is reversible over time. However, our work suggests that it may be beneficial to use a beta-blocker initially to decrease the transient desensitization and restore improved heart function.
Richard Lanzara, Ph.D.
Bio Balance, Inc.
Bio Balance (http://www.bio-balance.com/) is an early stage drug development company that has developed the only tested method to prevent drug desensitization at the receptor level. This phenomenon, also known as down-regulation, tolerance or fade, occurs with a large number of very commonly used drugs such as dobutamine for heart failure, isoproterenol for shock or asthma, L-dopa for Parkinsons Disease, and morphine for pain. Notably, desensitization cannot be remedied by taking larger dosages. With more and more drug, efficacy diminishes and the drug essentially stops working. By using a patented approach, we create new, combination drug candidates that sustain the therapeutic response with a better side-effects profile than the original drugs.