For years people have speculated about the existence of ‘Broken Heart Syndrome’, suggesting that the loss of a partner has major health implications for the surviving partner. Most experts however believed that illnesses following the death of a partner were purely coincidental.
In February this year however, everything changed when scientists announced that a broken heart could cause severe health problems, even death. Broken Heart Syndrome, they announced, does exist.
Trauma and baldness
Scientists have found that the loss of a loved one affects women particularly badly. Within weeks, some women find that they begin to quickly lose large patches of hair. This hair loss condition is known as telogen effluvium, which is often triggered by severe emotional trauma or stress upsetting the normal hair growth cycle.
The hair follicles in your scalp go through two phases – growth and rest (also known as the telogen phase). Up to 10% of all hair follicles are in the resting phase at any given time, leading to the loss of between 50 and 100 hairs every day. This hair loss is completely normal and does not lead to the development of bald patches.
Telogen effluvium causes 30% or more of hair follicles to enter the resting phase prematurely. Within weeks the attached hair falls out leading to the development of large, noticeable bald patches.
Heartbreak and telogen effluvium
Broken Heart Syndrome causes elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the bloodstream. This then affects hair follicles (and other aspects of health), triggering the telogen phase.
Some better news
Although shocking for the person affected by the condition, the good news is that telogen effluvium is usually a temporary condition that resolves itself within six months. As cortisol levels drop back to normal, the hair growth cycle restarts and new hair will begin to fill in the bald patches.
Telogen effluvium can be caused by a number of traumatic experiences, not just broken heart syndrome. If you find that you are suddenly experiencing patchy hair loss, it could be that you have telogen effluvium. You should however seek a proper diagnosis from a qualified hair loss professional who will be able to provide further advice for treating your specific condition.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our online diagnostic form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our hair loss success stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 0800 077 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.