Aug 20, 2019
This week, we looked at the death of Padme and the battle of Mustafar in Revenge of the Sith. It turns out that it is possible to die of a broken heart, but it probably wouldn't look like what we saw on screen.
There's a condition called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or "octopus trap heart," which can occur in otherwise healthy people as a reaction to high stress situations like public speaking, getting fired, or losing your husband to the Sith. Stress hormones cause one part of your heart to swell, limiting its ability to pump and dramatically reducing blood flow. People tend to assume it's a heart attack, but, unlike a heart attack, there's not an obstruction like a clot limiting blood flow. It can occur in someone who's totally healthy and has otherwise had no history of heart problems. My cohost actually encountered a patient experiencing takotsubo cardiomyopathy during his residency.
While "broken heart syndrome" is a real thing, it probably wouldn't look like what we saw in RotS. Padme would look like she was having a heart attack, with shortness of breath, chest pain, etc. (She'd also probably look like she'd just given birth.) Unlike Padme's situation, takotsubo cardiomyopathy is treatable, and she'd likely survive and make a full recovery since she was under medical care.