American woman suffers broken heart syndrome after dog's death

Beautiful yorkshire terrier playing with a ball on a grass
Photo credit: Getty

When Texas woman Joanie Mitchell, 62, arrived in hospital suffering from back ache and chest pains, doctors thought she was having a heart attack. 

However after finding that her heart and arteries were healthy they realised she was instead suffering from Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or broken heart syndrome.

The condition mimics the symptoms of a heart attack and is usually prompted by an emotional event.

Ms Simpson believes the emotional incident that pushed her over the edge was the death of her dog, a nine-year-old Yorkshire terrier named Meha.

Speaking to the Washington Post Ms Simpson says at the time of her "episode" she was in the midst a stressful period.

Her son in law had lost her job, her son needed to have back surgery and Meha was suffering from congestive heart failure.

Ms Simpson set an appointment to get Meha euthanized but when the day came the dog seemed fine so she cancelled the appointment.

Meha died the next day, and it was anything but peaceful.

"It was such a horrendous thing to have to witness," said Ms Simpson. 

"When you're already kind of upset about other things, it's like a brick on a scale. I mean, everything just weighs on you."

Ms Simpson believes the incident makes total sense, as she tends to take things to heart. 

She thinks her heart may break again, but that's not stopping her from keeping pets.

"It is heart-breaking. It is traumatic. It is all of the above," Ms 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."