Physiology of Heartache

Today I got curious about what causes the physical feeling of “heartache.” Well at first I just was curious if I could find any well written physical descriptions of heartache. While there are certainly thousands of sentimental descriptions, I couldn’t find a single description of the physiology of heartache. Further according to one article there is no known physiological explanation for the physical feeling of heartache. Strange.

On the other hand, I did learn that there may be a relationship between a broken heart and an increased chance of a heart attack (although the few studies I dug up were not totally convincing.) Our modern world: “Better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all (unless you’ve got a history of heart disease.)”

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95 Responses to Physiology of Heartache

  1. eve says:

    amazing … I was looking for just the same thing and discovered just the same lack of information. I wish I’d come up with such a poetic way of describing the irony.

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  2. Steve says:

    Well, to my surprise, the first web site listed (yours) says there’s nothing on the subject. Damn! Sounds like a great research project if one could find the funding. Also curious about that physical feeling when speeding and you’ve just spotted the cop behind you.

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  3. Maggie says:

    I was just looking for the same thing! It’s amazing people haven’t done more research, but I know that emotional heartache is certainly linked to physical heartache. Maybe they’ll come up with something sooner or later.. in the meantime.. hm

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  4. marian says:

    I searched on PubMed for heartache and it kept changing the word to headache….why is there no research on this obviously important and universally felt subject?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  5. Dave Bacon says:

    Yeah it is very strange at this lack of information. I keep asking people I meet from the medical school here if they have seen anything, but so far, nothing!

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  6. mary says:

    Just a thought… When I think of heart ache I think of love that has been taken away (such as a loved one) or love – (the emotion) has been injured by being unfaithful. What can cause heart ache? Missing a loved one, desiring just to be loved by someone, the death of a loved one.

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  7. Michael says:

    I am convinced that there is a physical cause to heartache. There has to be a science to it.

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  8. emenike says:

    i hope there are no relationship between the physical and emotional(maybe they call it spiritual) heartache cos when i think of both being linked then i pity those comfronted with them. i think no research can completely exhaust the question asked cos they are meant to provide solution, kind of a panache hence i believe it is an individual feeling. it does hurt, like nothing else matters, like heaven should wait – when you’re heart broken.

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  9. james c says:

    Wow there are others. I’m feeling heartache right now. I actually do feel it physically in my chest. There is also a physical feeling of excitement similar to caffeine along with a psychological depression because I see no solution to what my physical being wishes. The physical feeling around the heart is centered between the breast bone and the heart. It might be described as a pressure on the anterior side of the heart. As if there as a fluid build up and it was a slightly different temperature. I would rub it if I could. Psychologically I want to be drawn into another. I want to hold them so close. I know this is all just physiology initiated by a psychological response system. I have never had a girlfriend or kissed a girl so on a certain level (emotionally) this is all a little abstract (and meaningless). I will probably be vulnerable for the next week or so. Getting more sleep and running (endorphins, self discipline etc.) should also help.

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  10. Rebecca says:

    I’ve been from one end the internet to the bloody other and am absolutely flabbergasted to have found – not ‘a little bit’ of info about the physiological causes of heartache in relation to neurology (e.g. metabolism of serotonin) – but zero! Zilch! Nada! (C’ept for websites like this by well-meaning rational scientists that don’t have their heads in the clouds.)
    There is nothing that can’t be explained scientifically, e.g. it is a well-known fact that hardly any physiological function, thought or ‘feeling’, takes place without the brain, and that little or no proper research has been conducted into ‘heartache’, I find quite ridiculous.
    …Unless there’s a very simple physiological cause and governments try to cover it up to prevent the market for romantic media from collapsing(!)

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  11. stacey says:

    I saw the phrase “physical heartache” on a grief website and thought it must be a documented, studied thing, guess not, but I definately have it. It seems the emotional pain is so severe it causes the physical and unfortunately, i thought I’d had a broken heart before, and though the sadness and hurt was great, there was not pain like this. It frightens me as I read more about the heart attack connection, I know stress plays role in our health, a very big one it’s said. I don’t want to have to depend on prescriptions the rest of my life, I know my dearest loved one would not have wanted it, but what do you do?

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  12. lina says:

    At first I felt very sad for some reason, and then my heart unexpectantly started aching, it increases, as I hold my arms hoping this pain will fade soon in enough. Sometime it did, and other times I just listen to musics and sleep it off.

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  13. JO says:

    I was thinking about it on the way home tonight. I think it has to do with blood pressure going down maybe. thats what feels like. I feel like I dont want to do anything. and why would my heart actually hurt?? probably because its missing some blood…

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  14. christine says:

    i was just looking for the same thing you all were and i couldn’t find anything! how hard would it be to measure the correlation between someone who claims to feel heartbreak by setting them up to machines measuring their hormone levels, muscle tension, and blood pressure and compare those results to results from how they were before heartbreak (through old doctor’s records and such)? i agree with what someone else said-it is a feeling, a physical feeling that i don’t feel right in my heart, but more in the center of my chest-there must be a physiological explanation!

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  15. Jana says:

    Starving heart? The beat goes on but the ache is like a million years flying by inbetween the each aching. Is it onset with thought????

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  16. Brian MD says:

    Seeing how this article is still rather actively being discussed, I feel that I need to straighten some things out.

    This pain you are feeling (like some people above) where your arm hurts is known as angina pectoris, which is regular chest pain that goes away with rest. However in extreme cases it will be AMI (acute myocardial infarction) in which case you would probably be in the hospital.

    I am also surprised as to the lack of data on the subject as well as a lack of research. Some ideas suggested above would not work, such as monitoring blood pressure. Your body is designed to compensate for irregularities and blood loss, you can usually lose 20% of your entire blood volume before you even BEGIN to see a change in BP.

    I may actually take this into my own hands, find some volunteers who can be subjected to specific brain function tests while I am in my next open-heart and see if it has any chemical effect on the heart or any physical change.

    As for non-invasive research, I would think an EEG (electroencephalogram) or an fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Image) would be very effective in getting definitive data on the subject matter.

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  17. Alex says:

    Got here by googling “physical heart ache.”

    Once in awhile, in the really low lows, thinking of really negative thoughts about others or myself sends a strange sensation to my heart. Imagining losing someone, or thoughts of suicide for instance. It’s like skipping a beat, or depriving it of blood as someone mentioned above. But it never lasts more than a couple of seconds and there’s never any pain in my arm. It’s good to finally get a little information on it.

    Just wondering how often this happens to others.

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  18. Sheila Casey says:

    I’m pretty sure I know where heartache comes from, and why western medicine hasn’t studied it. I believe it’s from a break in the 4th chakra, centered over the heart.

    We build bonds or chords to those we love, and when those bonds are broken, it hurts. These bonds are very real, even though they cannot be seen. Love is real, even though it cannot be seen.

    For more information, look at books by Barbara Brennan, such as
    “hands of light.”

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  19. scott says:

    My fiace left me 9 months ago. My heart has ached ever since. Something else happened though. The day she ended the relationship before I was made aware that she was ending the relationship I felt her love leave my heart. I swear, I literally felt like something was removing itself from my chest. I wonder if anyone else has experienced this? My e-mail is

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  20. pseudomitch says:

    Yes. At the point at which I accepted the finality of my breakup with my lover, I felt something at the center of my chest split cleanly and quietly, like igneous rock, and energy of some sort seemed to be released – perhaps it was her love leaving.

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  21. koneko says:

    My father died when I was 8. Losing him created a very real pain in my chest that felt as though something had been removed. Like there was a hole in my heart. Just three days ago, the relationship that I have been in ended. I was convinced that he was “the one” and that this was it for me. I’ve never felt such real physical pain come from an emotional event. Right now, as I type this, the pain in my chest is so great that I can barely breathe. I wonder how long it will last… I do believe that some of this pain has to be due to some chemical effects in the body. In addition to the pain in my chest, I’ve lost my appetite and have managed to drop 7 pounds in just three days without trying.

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  22. Dave Bacon says:

    Koneko, if you are having these symptoms I suggest you go see a doctor immediately. Sure it might be just heartache, but it also might be a heart attack.

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  23. elleira says:

    surprised that so many people wondered about this just like me… i kept wondering what kind of chemical reactions causes heartaches. i wondered cos i wish i could stop it… i just can’t seem to stop that physical heartache. it’s not a sharp pain, just feel like a heavy stone is pressing down on my chest and i have to breathe harder than usual… to fellow heartache-ers, may our aches stop soon…

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  24. Mandy says:

    I’m surprised others have tried (and failed) to find the same info I’ve been looking for. I have my own emotional problems that bring about heartache (which I have no intention of airing here), but like the last poster, it feels like an unpleasant pressure in my chest. That’s got to be caused by something. I suppose the Johns Hopkins study is the beginning of some real research, but I would like to know what’s actually happening to me when I dwell on things I shouldn’t.

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  25. Nick says:

    I too have experienced, and am experiencing right now, a heart ache sensation. The first time it happened was over a woman that was supposed to be my one true love. It was a nearly unbearable pain, that I thought might kill me. It lasted for two months, not constant, but reoccurring, after a stressful relationship that lasted nearly eight months.
    Rubbing my chest bone alleviated pain, but I could never quite get it to go away unless I was asleep, or very distracted. Over time, it lessened to a point where I could say it was non-existent.
    Ever since, the same sensation happens whenever I get attached to someone and they do not reciprocate my deep emotional interest.
    The pain is centered above the heart, and inside of, or possibly below, the ribcage. I’ve paid very close attention to it lately because I’ve been wondering about it on a more scientific level. I’ve always been very aware of my body and what it was “saying”.
    I do not believe, as others here have stated, that it’s a universal phenomenon. I tend to form very strong emotional bonds. Before I knew what a sharp pain true heartache was if I lost someone I loved or my love wasn’t returned, what I would feel was grief. I would describe it as a dull aching over losing the opportunities for love with those people I cherished.
    It was a kind of empty feeling, like there was a hole in my chest, but it wasn’t a feeling I would describe as pain. It was an entirely emotional feeling.
    In the past I have also had panic attacks due to complications of anti-depressant medication, and can unequivocally declare it’s also not that kind of phenomenon.
    My heart has already been checked (ECT) and is a perfectly healthy heart.
    I hope someone somewhere looks into this seriously. There’s definitely something interesting going on.
    The pain does get better the more emotionally removed from the intial event that triggers the pain you get… especially over time. Also, if you weather it a first time, and know you’re prone to this kind of physical response, it’s easier to weather it again. At least, that’s how it has been in my case. Exercise, sleep, and keep as busy as you can.

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  26. Ron Petit says:

    Yes, I have felt the pain of heartache and I know there is a connection to angina pain, also severe headaches. Dr. Dean Ornish has published on this topic. Earlier in his career, he found that of those who had a heart attacks, after one year of time, the ones who went to a support groups had all survived and the ones who didn’t, had all died. He was stunned. He then set about investigating this topic in more depth. Getting the love we need is clearly the best preventative medicine. Heartache dumps numerous hormones and stress chemicals (designed for fight or flight and the like) into the blood supply, not to mention the cranking up of the autonomic nervous system (specifically the sympathetic nervous system). I believe that western medicine has intentionally avoided researching this connection as then clearly the solution, once verified, would be people loving and respecting people, and not more pharmacology (although it has it’s place). There is an article now available that chronicles the incidence of heart problems if you have a “bad” (code for disrespectful) boss. Again, similar results. Those mistreated by their bosses, had a 55 % increase in the incidence of heart problems. Also associated with being mistreated by these bosses is increased smoking, overeating and sedentary behavior. If you think about it, when you feel hurt, unappreciated or exploited, you may turn to food for comfort, cigarettes to alter you mood or turn into a couch potato due to low grade depression. On, by the way, depression is also strongly connected to heart problems. Same rationale. Depression is often internalized grief, emotional pain or hurt. I do wish these studies would call these things what they really are, i.e., being hurt or grieving, versus some inpersonal term such as PTSD, depression and the like. It’s like the human element has been removed from modern medicine and only a clinical sounding syndrome remains. I include psychology in this mix as well as the PhD Psych researchers seem to fall into the same trap. Lots more but that’s all I have time for now. The link for the “bad” bosses article is: Newsmax, Aug, 2007, p. 78 Sylvia Hubbard reproting on the research of Dr. Robert De Vogli. One could probably track that through MedLine or other online medical research sites.

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  27. Vince Melito says:

    I agree with Ron Above–thank you Ron.
    Yes–The pain really seems to be the same pain i experienced before a wrestling match in high school—almost exactly the same.
    I believe this is possible….I notice if i exrcise the pain goes away as if the chemicals in my system are being moved around and washed out. Why wouldn’t the fight or flight chemicals show up in the loss of a loved one—thats what their there for. You can bet there will be drugs for this, but i think that natural systems may be far better. ( I will not say that meds are not a good alternative)
    I think were on to something in this conversation.

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  28. sp says:

    I just broke up with my boyfriend and woke up today with an ache in my heart. I’m wondering the same thing. What is this feeling and what’s causing it.

    All this time, I always that it was just an expression or lyrics in songs and poetry. damn heart aches and I would really like to know how to make it go away.

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  29. M.W. says:

    » Sorry about being wordy, but there’s a lot to tell… In searching to explain my own pain, I found this page over a year ago, and have watched the progression of comments. It’s comforting in a strange sort of way to know that others have also felt this deep pain; all those poets & songwriters didn’t just make this stuff up–it really happens! For lack of conclusive science, it seems that using this type of forum to compare my experience to what others have felt is the best way to get a grip on what happened to me; toward that end I share some of my own details.
    » As to Dave’s original question – after realizing that there are many including myself who’ve experienced the pain of heartache, I suspect that science still hasn’t produced a suitable diagnosis simply because pure science is ill-suited for analyzing such things….. you can’t capture human emotions in a test tube. As technology improves, we are better able to understand how our minds work, what chemicals trigger different physiological and psychological responses, and how to better treat these symptoms. But it also seems to me that the complete answer to this is anything but simple, since a broken heart isn’t purely physiological, but also involves our subconscious emotions as well as our spiritual selves. After all, God is love….. and science cannot explain God.
    » It seems that a large portion of what I felt revolves around the phenomenon of “falling in love” (not necessarily the same as true love–ref. Dr. Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages”), and is sometimes referred to as “limerence” (reference Wikipedia). It seems that similar to a disease, this phenomenon can be experienced to varying degrees of intensity, and some people never experience it. I believe there’s a bond that is formed not just in our rational minds, but in other portions of ourselves–deeper portions that typically function only within the realm of our subconscious; a bond that can form whether or not you want it. You might consider it a function of an innate compatibility with another human, and it can do a marvelous job of messing with your mind! The breaking of this bond–separation from the object of your affections–causes among other feelings, a literal physical pain. It’s also notable that these intense feelings, though incredibly real, are not necessarily felt toward someone who would make a good lifelong mate…. but that’s another story.
    » In my case, I felt very strong, relatively constant heartache for at least 6 months, tapering off gradually over the following 6 months. {I’m curious to know the duration of other’s chest pains, noting Scott’s above at 9 months.} Now, over 18 months after my “break-up” I’m feeling quite well, but I find that if I allow myself to focus my thoughts on the one I lost, as in composing this, it serves to bring back some of that chest pain, but not nearly as intense. There are other aspects I also experienced, some quite bizarre, all of which indicate to me the complexity of the whole thing. A few examples: • over a period of about 6 months (the whole “affair” was about 10 months), I lost 25 pounds with no change in diet or exercise, apparently from a drastic change in metabolic rate; my doctor referred to me as “gaunt”. After a good bit of emotional healing, I once again have to watch what I eat. • the entire experience was characterized by incessant, intrusive thoughts of my loved one, to the extent of creating difficulty concentrating on anything else • in one instance shortly after our break-up, simply viewing her photo caused a sensation as if a strong electric shock had hit the center of my chest–inside, not outside • there were quite a few documented instances of being interrupted by chest pains or a tingling sensation a minute or so BEFORE my cell phone would ring with a call or text message from her • in at least 3 instances we had very similar thoughts at the same time, independent of each other and completely unexpected. I’m still at a loss to explain much of this, but I share these details simply to support my understanding that there’s a lot more to this than just a pain in the chest.
    » A book entitled “A General Theory of Love” presents a concept which in many ways closely agrees with my own experience. They propose a type of human connectivity on the level of our limbic brains, the supposed center of our emotions. Although written from an evolutionist’s perspective (with which I disagree), they present some very interesting ideas that seem quite plausible based on what happened to me. If nothing else, it makes you think.
    » As to sp’s question above about making the chest pains “go away”?? Seems to me that time is the best healer. But on the brighter side, I think my pastor phrased it well when he said, “If there were no love, there would be no grief.” And how pitiable we would be if there were no love. I welcome comments or other insights at

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  30. scott says:

    Its like a spreading pain from your heart, reaching to your limbs, growing warmer as it nears the edges, and the spot right below your heart feels empty… is it?

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  31. Joan says:

    I have found information on this subject by googling Broken Heart Syndrome. It is a heart attack feeling felt by people who have recently suffered the loss of a partner. Emergency rooms see this frequently. However there is nothing wrong with the heart. It just feels like it is broken. It is only one of many physiological effects of acute grief.

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  32. Lindsey says:

    Well, alright, there’s at least SOME answers on here to what I was looking for. But could it be possible that missing somone in extreame cases and heartache could somehow be related?

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  33. M.W. says:

    Lindsey, I can’t say what science or brain chemistry is behind it, but based on my experience there is most definitely a connection between heartache and the feeling of “missing” someone – seems to be a package deal. The extent of the attraction at its height is truly amazing – that powerful desire simply to be near a certain person. In a strange sort of way, I think it’s somewhat like being addicted to another human being, and the withdrawal when you separate is painful. I went through a phase where I asked myself WHY I missed her. I still can’t answer that, but I missed her presence anyway. Knowing what I know now about her personality, it makes no sense whatsoever from a rational perspective to have EVER felt that attraction (I should have been relieved that she was gone!), but then again we’re talking about human emotions, not rational thought.
    » If you haven’t read “A General Theory of Love” I’d recommend it; see my 9/14/07 post above. Feel free to email me if you care to discuss further.

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  34. Julia says:

    I found this explaination…maybe it will help.
    “Heartache in its more physical sense, originates in heartburn, that is, the metastatic attribution of indigestion pains to the heart. In its more figurative sense it was coined at the beginning of the seventeenth century, in order to characterize the psychosomatic pain caused by loss or other distress due to love in its various forms. As such it becomes a core element in the anatomic vocabulary of melancholia in its cultural heyday. Not for nothing does ‘heartache’ figure amongst the afflictions to which the flesh of the arch-melancholic Hamlet is heir.

    The heart is rhetorically made to ache like the head or the tooth, and this primarily in the metaphorical sense of the heart as the seat of love. The metaphor in question is, however, more properly a kind of metonym; a figure produced through a contiguous association. The ache is found with the heart. For the heart can, of course, ache almost physically in as far as it is indeed the seat and motor of the cardiac system, which registers the excitement of erotic and other passions, and is traumatized by aches and breaks when the passion is mortified or sickens and so dies.

    As one part physical and several parts figurative, heartache has passed extensively into the currency of lyric poetry and from there to the stock of received ideas which are the stuff of more popular cultural lyrics, of Broadway musicals and Country and Western ballads. Common parlance in German recognizes the liability of heartache to become cliché by coupling heart (‘Herz’) with ache (‘Schmerz’) as a somewhat painful love-match of rhyme-words. The two parts of heartache thus seem to belong together, yet always as a combination which is not quite true to life.

    — A. Webber”

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  35. HR says:

    Thanks Julia. I agree with the indigestion theory of pain being referred to the heart. I thought of this myself a while back, after a time when I acutely let loose my emotional longings, allowing tears and ‘physical heartache’ to take over quite unmanly-ly (but no one was watching, so that’s ok). Anyway, so after that, I had symptoms of digestive upset that I only a while later attributed to the heartache episode. I’ve also noticed on other occasions that the ‘heartache’ can have a gastrointestinal effect, but of course, I could be overthinking things. So I don’t know if that strengthens the case for that theory, but in my opinion there probably is a link.

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  36. Ter VP says:

    Well, as many of you, I came in search of finding the explanation of why my chest feels like a knife is running through it, but its not like a “chest pain” but a soul pain…much like a a tooth ache of the soul. However, I did not loose a romantic love recently. My loss has been accumilative over time and repressed and pushed down for years. It seems what I am concludin is that it is all in my head. I mean to say, my brain. I am realizing through reseach that the Thalmus in the brain could be a key in this puzzel. The thalmus is instrumental in attachment and the Ganglia also has a part. I found most of my answers on the site www’ They have much research and theorys on how to return to joy and recover from trauma and loss. Also Daniel Amen has done a lot of research as well. for further discussion and interaction email me at type soulache in subject line or heartache so I know who you are thanks, Tee

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  37. Laura says:

    I am very happy to hear about other people that, like me, experience physical “heartache”. My fiance does not experience it, neither do the few friends with whom I have brought it up.

    I will perhaps read the two books that have been brought up – Barbara Brennan and the “A General Theory of Love”. I am curious to know what IS this pain that I feel?

    My pain sounds very similar to the other people’s experiences – an acute pain that can be described as hurting, in the center of my chest under the rib cage. Massaging it makes it go away for a second. It definitely makes my breathing difficult.

    I first experienced it after I broke up with my first love 10 years ago. It took at least a year to get over it, but I always felt the pain was there, lurking underneath. Indeed it would trigger if I by chance saw my ex.

    Then, when I was dating my fiance, starting 7 years ago, I would tell him that my heart did not trust him yet, becuase that area of my chest still felt dead and constricted. When I finally decided to trust him, I felt a phsyical affirmation of my heart (chest area) “opening up” and feeling quite light and happy when I finally fell in love with him.

    If over the years, we got in a particulary bad fight, my chest would hurt as if we had already broken up.

    I do feel I also love my best friend, and when I left her recently, I felt an unexplained pain in the center of my chest for a week, even when my fiance was around.

    I very occasionally feel heartache for no reason, or if I just feel sad, which is what prompted me to look for an explanation. I empathize with the people who just want it to “go away” sometimes.

    I would also like to hear about the connection between heartache and breathing, as I feel my breathing is often constricted.

    I am also alarmed at the implications that it could be linked to actual heart disease. I would welcome further discussion on that too.

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  38. Amy says:

    well i must admit i’m a little relieved to hear about so many cases. i started getting short but scarily painful aching sensations in my chest and an intense beating sometimes, a week since, presumable cos of the ending of a relationship. i’ve never had it before. i think it’s because it was unexpected – a shock to the system. so i’ve been wondering what causes these physical symptoms. thing is, right now, i’m not depressed, i’m dealing with it well, but a few times a day i get this ‘heartache’, so that’s a little confusing. i thought it could be similar to the chest pains you get with anxiety, n that’s cos of adrenaline, noradrenaline, glucocorticoids n such things. but i’m not stressed or anxious, a little down yeah, but emotionally i don’t feel as though there’s anything that would be putting pressure on my heart.
    i’m not normally one to search for scientific explanations for this kind of thing, but the other feelings like emptiness n loss of appetite n will to do anything don’t last long, but this is a little worrying, especially seeing as it’s to do with the heart… i hope it doesn’t last long.
    well, this is a bit of a ramble so i appologise, but i felt i should share.

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  39. Tarah Lynn says:

    It does hurt so much… when you love someone..and it seems that the love is not reciprocated. It can be so emotionally painful that it causes a deep physical pain in your chest.. I am unfortunately currently in love with someone that it seems will probably never feel the same for me. Psychologically, I have just become so attached to the idea that one day we will be together, that we’ll finally look at each other, lock lips and embrace, and realize that we should be together. Right now, I cannot bare to simply imagine the fact that perhaps he is not the one for me..and that there is someone else out there for me. I do not want to imagine it..because over the last few years or so..I have built up all of my wishes and dreams around the possibility of someday being able to love him, and only him. My heart has hurt so emotionally and “physically” much that it seems that I literally cannot bare to go on in life. It seems a sort of nightmare. I have the hardest time focusing on the most little things throughout each and every day because in my mind I want nothing more than for my imagination of him and I to turn into a reality. I want to be so close to him and often the only way that the aching in heart seems to stop is when I’m laying in my bed..and my pillow is against my mind can wander..and imagine that it is him lying there beside me. I really only feel myself sometimes, when I live in my own little world..pretending that he will be with me soon. I “cannot” actually be with him “right” now for a few different reasons, but I “could” be in a few more months.. it’s just realizing that even then my love for him may not be reciprocated..that really hurts. Am I the only one who’s heart has ached so much that it sometimes seems that the only way to stop the aching would be to just not be alive? Don’t get me wrong, I am glad that I am alive and believe that I would never actually commit just sometimes does feel that to not be alive would bring that ever longed for peace. I brings me comfort to know that I am not the only one out there who has felt that unbearable emotional and physical heartache, beause it makes you feel very alone sometimes. I hope that it brings others comfort to realize that they also are not the only ones who experience it. We are all in it together.

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  40. Jen says:

    It’s funny how, while you have always heard love songs or romantic sentiments throughout your life…they take on a whole new meaning when you are ‘in love’. For example the phrases ‘You mean the world to me’, ‘you are my everything’, ‘you complete me’, what was once just kind of sickeningly sappy and sentimental…becomes your whole life and it’s all you know. Crazy how it can take control of you. When you can’t be with that person, you learn what it means to ‘miss’ someone. You are missing them, because you are not whole without them. They are a part of you. I have tried to look at this from a physical/psychological point of view…and perhaps it can be explained on a quantum level that we just haven’t gotten to yet, but I know that there is a strong aching, burning and pressure in my chest, the thought of my loved one can give me goose bumps and send waves of pleasure through my body. In fact….at one point driven to a spontaneous orgasm….no physical contact whatsoever….just talking to him across the wires. I know what they mean now when they say ‘spine tingling’…hmmm, it’s better to have loved and lost then to never have loved at all. Yes. Never knowing it…is like being cold and frozen. It sure as hell hurts when you can’t be with them though!

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  41. bob says:

    When I was a teenager, I was hurt really bad many times by my 1st love. For 10 yrs Ive avoided falling in love to save the heartache, until now.

    I met this girl 2 weeks ago from my past, she was really into me but I wasnt into her. After her persistance I gave in. A week later she tells me she dosent know what she wants to do now.

    I cant eat, I can barely sleep, and while Im awake I can’t stop thinking about her and can’t shake this feeling that Im not going to be with her.

    All the emotions from my 1st love are now coming back. I don’t like it, and Im afraid that if she dosent want to be with me, Ill find it very hard to let another in for a very long time again.

    I think we as humans are emotionally imperfect. My heart aches for her decision, I think my Thalmus’ and Ganglias are oversized, but I know if the worst happens, like last time, I will eventually get over it, and so can anyone on this page.

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  42. bob says:

    She just told me she dont want anything right now, she spends weeks making me fall for her, then tells me forget it. I’m hurting so bad right now. Ill take my advice from above post tho. Whether I’m more scarred than I already was, time will have to tell.

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  43. Dennis says:

    What a lightning rod this blog has been! I wound up here after Googling “heartache physiology” to try to find out what causes the feeling –having my share of it recently and being of a scientific bent. I’m surprised it hasn’t been thoroughly explained. My guess is that it’s in the same category as “heartburn.” That is, it’s some sort of stomach acid increase resulting from stress. We feel it as emotional pain, but, physiologically, at bottom, I think it’s stress due to a major upset to our security in the world.

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  44. Jono says:

    Well, I read most of the entries and find it quite interesting. Not too many people have mentioned the Spirit or the Soul. But I thought I would add my two cents on this to see if anyone agrees. I believe that we are made Body, Soul and Spirit. The physical feeling of heartache is a physical manifestation of something that has happened to the soul. For example unforgiveness may manifest with some sort of physical manifestation.. Bitterness too… and on the opposite side of the coin, someone genuinely in love who is filled with hope and has that love given back my feel physically energised, healthy, no headaches anymore, no tiredness – the physical manifestation of a soul at peace or in love is prosperous to the body. So if people are experiencing on going heart ache or physical symptoms caused from a break up – They need to really forgive from the bottom of their heart and with their whole heart. And at the same time need to cut the emotions ties (soul ties) that were formed as they gave themselves in love realising that it is not going to happen with that specific person.

    Ill confess – im a Christian – and i know the world wide web has every idea and opinion – but the bible has some amazingly interesting things to say on this subjuct –

    – Guard your heart for it is the well spring of life

    – Hope defferred makes the heart sick but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life..

    – A crushed spirit who can bear..

    The answer possibly lies in one step deeper – The Spirit.

    mail me if you have any opinions..

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  45. Jono says:

    Oh, and the most important one which i nearly forgot..

    Jesus said, “I come to bind up the brokenhearted”


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  46. Jill Watson says:

    As a child when my feelings got hurt I would experience this pain in my chest that felt like the expression “broken hearted”. Sometimes it remained in just the chest area but sometimes it would be so strong a feeling that it would radiate up into my neck and into my jaw. I never really explained it to anyone. I was told if I wanted to cry they would give me something to cry about, so I tried to not be so sensitive. Well that isnt something that can be changed, we are just fooling ourselves. It wasnt until I had my children, my youngest son being close to me and a lot like me that one day we discussed hurt feelings and he shared with me the fact that he felt a physical pain in his chest when his feelings got hurt. I had never heard another person say that in my whole 30 years of life.
    Is there a link to that feeling and the tremendous lump you get in your throat when you try to not cry? I have actually hurt my throat on several occasions because the lump got so intense you could hear a noise from my throat like a croak. In a way its good to know that there are others out there that have these feelings, does everyone feel this way? and they just dont speak of it?

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  47. Jill Watson says:

    I agree with the theory of it affecting our soul.
    I have wondered for a long time, what is it when you meet someone and you feel a connection to them, like you can feel them from across the room, or like you may have been together in a past life. I call it THIS DANCE THAT WE DO.
    I think our souls travel through time and meet up again sometime in life even if its not at the same copassity. Like brother and sister in one life, maybe husband and wife in another and sometimes just strangers we meet that we connect with right away.
    On the other hand there have been a few people that I have met in my lifetime that I have felt an instant dislike or distrust for with no logical explanation.
    My husband and I have some sort of connection even though he is 17 years my senior. He will be thinking of something he wants for dinner and I will have made that same thing for dinner. We do this on many levels, we cannot explain it.
    I am a very intuitive person, too many times when I say “wouldnt it be weird if” it would actually happen that way word for word.
    I got off topic a bit, as for connecting that pain in your chest from heart ache to heart burn. Well I dont think so. If you have ever had trouble with heart burn it feels like you can feel the acid dripping into your chest and you can feel the burning pain. This is a physical symptom to our bodies producing too much acid. Though painful, I dont think it can be linked as the same. I always heard if you think you are having a heart attack try an anti acid (tums rolaids, malox) if the pain goes away you had heart burn. if it doesnt go to the hospital. However when you see someone having a heart attack they grab their chest and it looks very intense, also unlike that dull radiating pain that increases in intensity that happens when I suffer heartache.

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  48. lizabeth says:

    my boyfriend has gotten into the nasty habit of “joking” about having cheated on me. he takes advantage of my trust in him, my low self-esteem, and my gullibility, and i believe him every time he says it. of course, he says it so often that i now find it difficult to believe otherwise. anyways, each time it comes up in conversation, i feel an incredible ache in my chest. it’s hard to explain, but it’s not a sharp pain like the type described in above comments. it’s a deep ache that only leaves once i’ve had time to sort out my emotions and respond accordingly (usually it’s just crying and venting to close friends). still, i get the same feeling when it’s been a long time since i’ve seen my boyfriend and i miss him. i’ve wondered about heartache since i first got with him, as i’ve had my fair share of it over the course of our relationship. if our brain is responsible for thoughts and feelings, why would an organ be the cause of such distress? it makes as much sense, to me, as my liver or my stomach hurting when i miss him. i’m glad to know that i’m not alone in this feeling… but i think it would be comforting to understand the cause of my pain. isn’t there anything substantial out there?

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  49. nava says:

    Personally, I am not glad others are feeling such enormous pain – both emotional and physical. It makes me sad that there is so much pain in the world because of broken hearts. It is true that G-d is quite familiar with such pain as it is mentioned several times in the TANAK (Bible). I know from my own experience that G-d allows valleys of pain to be etched out in us so that He can fill them with joy, so the deeper the pain, the deeper the joy that will eventually come. But sometimes when the pain is so intense that one isn’t sure whether they can live through it or not, it makes you ask the Almighty a lot of questions. (It’s ok to do that, He loves it when we want a real back and forth relationship with Him) I think several people have touched well on the physiology of heartache, from the 4th chakra to chemical changes, to other metaphysical phenomena etc. They all play a part. I think the long term physical worry isn’t heart disease as much as cancer. A SUDDEN UNEXPECTED LOSS can trigger physical heart reaction but the development of cancers are now being shown to be directly related to intense emotional upheavals, losses etc. But the key, in my opinion, from studying this for many years is letting yourself grieve, cry “get it out” and not bottle it up. This is easier for women. As to the young man who said once you’ve been through it, it’s easier the next time, unfortunately, isn’t correct. I thought I had lived through everything, but in my 63rd year I have faced something beyond any pain I have ever known, because the love was beyond any love I have ever known…and it does have to do with finding someone I have been searching for from past lives. I didn’t know I was even searching until I found him, and then I began to recognize him. Also I have dreams of our former life (lives) which shocked me when first happening. I seem to be losing him again, like before…The love that accumalates over generations is so deep and I think explains the intense physical pain that accompanies certain heartbreaks. I believe this relationship is why I am here on earth, and to think I cannot resolve it – again – is quite unreal – and it means Oh NO! that I have to come back AGAIN????? There were a couple of contributors here whom I could feel were in deep distress more than the others, and probably these are past life issues. (TaraLynn & bob) I pray you will find the peace and the fulfilled dreams you are searching for. Let Hashem (G-d) carry you, cause you can’t do it on your own. He knows what you are going through. For the rest of the writers too. Sorry for such a LONG post. Shalom.

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  50. nava says:

    Just an added thought: Along with B.Brennan’s “Hands of Light” I would also recommend “The Touch of Healing” by Burmeister w/Tom Monte. It is about touch healing through jin shin jyutsu, something which combines the emotional & spiritual & physical. Another touch healing source is Marion Rosen’s “Rosen Method Bodywork”
    I have had excellent touch healing on other trauma issues that manifested in my body through cranial massage therapy. It is touch therapy which, among other things, restores the spinal fluid flow which get constricted during intense emotional trauma. somehow releasing that fluid to flow again helps physically but also releases the emotional trauma which got locked into the muscles and tissue. It is fascinating. All the best. nava PS. There is also something about cutting soul ties mentioned by someone, a matter worth looking into. I would want to be sure I was supposed to cut the tie though, as opposed to healing it.

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  51. M.W. says:

    Nava –
    I’m intrigued by many comments in your posts, but in particular:
    1) Your references to the spiritual aspects of these experiences & feelings.
    2) The reference to your 63rd year. {For those readers who think that intense feelings of love for another can only happen to the young… I strongly suggest you think again!}

    These items are somewhat off the original topic of the blog, but I’d like to discuss them further; if you care to do so, please contact me at (see my 9/14/07 post above).

    In any case, shalom – peace – to you also, as well as to all others who may read these words as they attempt to understand their own experiences. For there is a peace that only God can give…

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  52. Kat says:

    I was just wondering about it also. I was thinking that maybe when people get upset something happens with the blood pressure or something that causes the uneasy sensation in your heart.

    Just a thought…

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  53. A.F says:

    Well… I will say that it was very interesting to find these posts…as I sit here and wait for that significant person to call me, I ache all over. I’ve felt this way countless times in my life. Heartache just seems to be a major part of life for me. A person I really cared about and I were recently torn apart by circumstances, timing and location. I cried for a week straight(and still am), felt sick all over, and had that horrible and deadly PAIN in my chest and all over my entire body for that matter. I know what its like to feel like death would be better, because nobody in their right mind would choose to feel this kind of emotional pain day in day out. Why do we do these things to one another? Part of the reason I’m hurting right now is simply because I want closure. When things crumble between you and someone you love, you crumble with it. I’m actually going to train myself to keep my heart in an iron cage from now on. It’s a matter of survival. One of the biggest tragedies of life is realizing that no matter how strongly 2 people feel for one another, it still may not work out. Love isn’t everything.
    I keep sacrificing my own well being in hopes of holding onto love, only to be left with this tremendous HEARTACHE in my chest time and time again. When does it end? I hate this pain. And only time can mend it. It really makes me never want to love again. And that is oh so…..sad. 🙁

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  54. elise says:

    i am extremely interested in this subject. I wish to understand not only the physiology of a broken heart or heart ache, but also what really happens in the body to cause the feeling of love in the first place. My theory on this subject is related to the effect drugs have on the body. A person (not in love or on drugs) normal, going through life content, not too happy or not sad, stumbles upon something (drugs to an addict) or someone (a new love) incredible! suddenly, their feeling incredible, like they can do anything and as is true with drugs, esp. cocaine, their levels of dopamine are at crazy high levels. i believe the feeling of love is SO similiar to this, u cant eat, can’t sleep, all u dream about is that person and your heart races like crazy.. sounds simliar, huh? the brain must be releasing significant levels of dopamine in the “falling” in love phase. But, when the addict doesn’t have his drugs and he “crashes” because there is no long tons of dopamine flowing in the synapses, which the body has gotten used to. the same goes for a relationship, when that person leaves you, all that dopamine that has been building, is suddenly taken from you. And since you’ve been releasing SO much more then prior to the love/drug affair, the regular levels are not there, and you have less dopamine then ever existed. It takes time to build back up to normal… i could be totally off here, but im very interested in the effects of drugs on people, and i think there is a good connection between the two, after all, drugs only cause our brain to do things they have potential of anyways. Let me know if this was helpful to anyone, or if u want to discuss something, email me at

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  55. Jill Watson says:

    My whole life I have felt this heart ache. When I was younger, I used to get such a terrible pain in my chest that actually went up into my neck and throat at times. I used to cry a lot, of course it never took away the severe pain. It gradually lessened with time, happening less often. I never had heard anyone refer to that pain in their chest until I had my second child and he and I used to discuss such things, We are both very sensitive people. Very empathetic and sympathetic.
    One day while we were covering this heartache he said he also gets this physical pain in his chest and how he explained it is exactly how I feel it.
    That was the first time I had ever heard anyone else say that they felt that pain. I didnt feel quite as alone, I did begin to wonder how many people actually felt that when their feelings get hurt, or someone breaks your heart. Which is probably where the phrase comes from. It sometimes feel like a dull snap or break deep in your chest and can radiate up to your neck from there. I have since been curious about what actually happens physically to our bodies when we have that pain.
    I know some people dont get hurt they just get mad at the same things that crush me. So I am sure they dont get these feelings.
    Its just interesting to find that so many people can relate and know how it feels. I dont think its like heart burn cause I have had heart burn since I was a small child, the kind you can feel the acid actually drip in the esophagus and burn like crasy. It does not feel the same.
    So God bless the sensitives and give us strength.

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  56. ph says:

    Like the rest of the bunch who stumbled here, I too visited this site to see why the heck am I having that stinging pain in my chest when I think about by new find. In spite of some complicated explanations above I guess I will have live with it; the only redeeming point for me being that my girl is a doctor herself!

    As a mark of respect to this amazing chain of discussion, I add another comment.

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  57. Broken says:

    I am going through heartache right now. My girlfriend of 2+ years just broke up with me. We lived together with her 8 year old daughter who I grew insanely attached to. I can’t explain it either but this is horrible. If anyone wants to study that, I’d be happy to be distracted for as long as it took to diagnose. I know there’s no scientific explanation for it, but if there was, I’d definitely want the antidote. 🙁

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  58. Eliona says:

    Im not sad because my boyfrined broke up or anything.
    I experiencing heartache because i am in love. With someone who lives in the US. I live in Sweden. And whenever we talk about emotions and stuff, I feel my heart breaking. i get warm, and then cold and i feel a tingling sensation that start from my heart and then goes straight out to my left hand and stops there in the middle. Its like all my heartache gathers in that one spot in my left hand. Sometime i just wanna stick a pen right through it to release it.

    Anyone else feeling this heart to hand sensation from their heartache?

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  59. Audrey Beauvais says:

    I am wondering if the heartache is related to hormones which are dumped when you are. Perhaps an endocrinologist might be able to shed some light on this obvious malady. Mine strikes at holiday time without fail.

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  60. Marette says:

    You have all helped me by sharing your views, thankyou. I am especially in tune with nava and Jill Watson’s perspective, compassion, empathy and ‘all things of the spirit’ past and present are huge triggers for me. My interest however is whether anyone has experienced a period of aching joints/muscles/tendons almost to the point of immobility directly related to an episode of heartache/stress? I have had many tests, but all is okay. I have released much through tears, prayers, bodywork etc. which help me to recover, but have developed atopic eczema which flares up on my face and around my eyes if I feel any sadness/stress and let it get out of control. I now have to suppress it after one good cry, LOL! or it happens without fail, go figure. Bizarre as it sounds, it has taught me some self-control…it seems my Soul has found a way to keep my emotions ‘centred’. Thankyou for your time to listen and may HigherLove be with you all x

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  61. Jaclyn says:

    I think it odd that something as common as a heartache, which most of us have experienced, cannot necessarily be explained. I also think it a little scary that an emotion could affect so many systems in a body. I myself am a little frightened by that. When I was little, if I wanted to get out of school, I would just concentrate on giving myself a fever and I would have a fever. As an adult, if I want nothing more than to not feel the heartache, I can’t avoid it. It’s all a mystery to me, and not a part of life I enjoy particularly

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  62. Migallen says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  63. kevin says:

    No words can explain really how deep love is emotionally. The pain is divine, the tears are too hot. This is most sincere human feeling, unwavering, unwashed and untamed. We cannot and can never understand it because it is the human truth that burns the soul. This is the message of the soul!

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  64. Cassandra says:

    I just want to know how to make the heartache go away. My 18 year marriage ended over a year ago. Some say the pain will go away when you meet someone new. That doesn’t make sense to me. I just know that the heartache is constant and there is a real physical pain most of the time. Some say that the pain will lessen with time. But the further in time that I am away from my ex the more intense the overwhelming feeling of loss. . .Yes, my heart aches all the time . . .

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  65. steve says:

    the most logical thing for it to be is similar to the fight or flight response. I did some research and found out that the fight or flight response has an effect on the sphincters of the body and when I have experienced the feeling of heartache it feels like a sinking feeling or the feeling of a muscle tensing or relaxing. there is a sphincter located at the junction of the esophagus and stomach which seems to be around the area I get this sinking feeling so maybe this could be the cause.

    The fight or flight response can also cause the dilation and constriction of blood vessels but i’m unsure as to what this would feel like, if anything at all.

    So all in all I think its probably like having a very mild panic attack or at least that seems to be the best phisiological explination for it.

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  66. john says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  67. M.W. says:

    Not so, John. There is nothing whatsoever idiotic about an honest attempt to understand something that you have experienced, even if it remains inexplicable after a long line of questions. Life is such that some questions are never answered — the true idiot is the one who never asks…

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  68. Lee says:

    I have developed a new technique that decodes a person’s subconscious memories that are stored in the soul. All memories since conception are there, in detail. When I stimulate these memories they reverse bridge back into the physical body, often causing the physical body to move so profoundly it knocks a person off their feet. This happens even though I am 10 to 15 feet away from them, not touching them physically in any way, their eyes are closed, and I am saying nothing.

    Everytime I touch a stored memory relating to an emotional breakup or betrayal, I have noticed that the erector spinea muscle over the T2 and T3 vertebrae lock up to block the incoming emotion from reaching the afferent neurons coming out the dorsal section of the spine. This muscle contraction causes the proverbial “knife in the back feeling” associtated with the betrayal. By contracting, this muscle compresses the cell body head of the sensory neuron in the dorsal root ganglia and the disc between the vertebrae, thus putting a tourniquet hold on the sensory neuron.

    The efferent neuron exiting the front of the spine which innervates the the upper central region of the heart is also compressed as it exits the same area between T2 and T3 vertebrae, thus effecting this motor neuron’s ability to send signals to the heart. This appears to be the cause of the heartache.

    When I remove my hand from the stored memory stimulation, the pain immediately goes away. It’s easy to tell how many relationships a person has been in during their life without them ever saying a word. I have found that projecting a loving prayerful thought into the area where the memory is stored immediately releases the pain permently.

    Ironically, that someone mentioned the dopamine/serotonin connection above as this response pattern is very similar to what I have found in clients with severe addictions, just that it appears at a lower level.

    The reason men do not feel the emotion as strong as women is that the feedback mechanism for masculine consciousness is not processed through the amygdala as intensely as it is for women.(Generally speaking but not always true as it is not based upon gender but dominant aspects of consciousness.) Men recognize the emotion when it is gone more so than when it is present.

    The reason we keep getting into relationships with the same type of people is that the soul wants to cleanse of all past emotional wounds. Thus the number one attraction in relationships is that we are attracted toward someone who’s personality is similar to someone with whom we have unresolved conflict. We try to use them as a surrogate.

    The attraction is very strong as we approach intimacy, and then all of a sudden we hate them and have no idea why. The unresolved issue has arisen. Remember it is a perfect dance as the other person is is the relationship for a complimentary reason… This barely scratches the surface in my work as I’m like a kid with a new microscope, reading soul patterns to understand all this.

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  69. db says:


    I was searching the web for a connection between heartache and a sensation in the palm of the hand and this was the first website that came up. There are times that I have had thoughts of a broken relationship with a girlfriend, and I would instantly feel a rush along with a tingling sensation in the palm of my right hand. Heartache is not always present, but when the emotions are overwhelming, a heavy feeling on my chest will accompany the hand sensation. I started noticing these symptoms years ago during a breakup with a girlfriend, and now, even with current relationships, I can almost anticipate the hand sensations when thoughts of a break up come up.

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  70. Misty Killion says:

    Wow! I’m amazed at how many people are seeking the same information as Me… it sucks to know so many people feel this way, but a piece of it helps to know that others understand the feeling. If anyone figures it out, please post… now i’m even more curious, b/c it HAS to be SOMETHING!

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  71. Stephen J. Ittershagen says:

    Get the f*ck off the blog, “john”.
    Thanks to all others for all the info / opinions on this surprisingly under-researched topic. It amazes me that with all the known physical effects, that there hasn’t been a ton of research!

    I lean towards the combinations of all the physical causes mentioned by a few of you. I would recomend the same for those planning on looking into this further.

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  72. Dora says:

    As I read through these posts, (almost every single one) I was touched that there are so many of us seeking answers to this dilemma. I was also surprised that many had mentioned what is my particular heartache at this time, loss of a child. My son, age 33, died unexpectedly of complications from a seizure. He and I were kindred spirits like many of you have said, in that we “felt” deeply. We both wrote poetry too, to express some of our sorrows. The pain in my heart is just like many of you, real physical pain, a sense of emptiness, and the best explanations that I gleaned from the posts is the soul bonds that are created between humans. Since my son also came right out of my body, I feel those bonds are even more closely knitted. So now, as a Christian, I look to God for the peace only he can give, the One who can be the bridge between the broken bonds of Seth’s soul and mine. Another son is worried about my health in all this, hence my search today. Some concern about the heart attack connection as I have already had problems with arrythmias (possibly from other heartaches, ie., mother dying when I was 16 among many many other events) So, all that to say thank you all for posting what has happened with you, what you thought, and how you’ve dealt with it. Since Seth just died, Christmas eve 2009, the pain is still fresh, but I know time is part of the healing process, as with any deep wound . . . it’s just this one is a wound of the soul and there is only One Physician I trust to work on that part of my “anatomy”. Thanks again.

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  73. Dora says:

    I meant to say that many had NOT mentioned death of a child. Sorry.

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  74. not my first broken heart says:

    First thing….

    I am sending prayers to you. Im sure that your son is sending his love from above.
    I had to give up 2 of my 3 children for open adoption, although I only see one currently. The other one is 10 and I haven’t seen him in almost 5 years because of things that happened following the conception of my 2nd child whom I kept and am raising with her father separatley. These hard times lead to the conception of a 3rd child that I had to give up, and he lives close, in my city, so that is the only reason I get to see him.
    I hope you find strength and good times, sooner than later, you deserve them… Peace, Love, Light and many many Blessings to your Heart, Spirit, and Soul….

    Now here is my heartache view:

    I put “get appetite back after heartache” into bing, and this is the first link I clicked on, thank goodness!
    I read about 3/4 of the comments on here, and finally felt like eating.

    That was 3 hours ago. Along with the loss of appetite I have been having “heartache” on and off since early December, when he first moved out. Since then, I’ve been doing everything I know to get him back. I have been letting him have a relationship with me when it is conveniant for him… Letting it take my life force. Letting my 3 year old daughter be taken care of by everyone but me. She is basically begging for my love, while I beg for his, and it makes me sick.

    Last week his pushing me away psychologically at will, turned to pushing me away physically, and it has left many bruises. He promised that it would never happen again (as they all do) and that he would go with me to a professional to get help, but we didn’t make it there before the 2nd physical pushing away and subsequent 2nd set of bruises…

    I have had these heartaches since I was 22, and I am now 28…. The first time it happened and I described it to someone, they told me “your having an anxiety attack, honey..” and fed me Xanax… This time, my heart hurts the worst it ever has.

    When my heart physically hurts because of “him”, it feels like my breastbone is being cracked open, from the underneath, and it feels like my heart is being punctured by said bone. Well, that is how it has felt lately, in the worst. I have felt every different type of pain, shortness of breath, heaviness on the chest, etc. that has been listed on here.

    I think that the heartache cannot be fully measured by man made machines, ie scientifically laid out as to what happens exactly, because I agree with quite a good amount of people on here that it has to do with all levels of our being, and we are NOT just physical beings… I believe we are Spiritual beings living a physical existance, and anything that is “out there” is because we are trying to measure something that is immeasurable. Not to say we cannot measure with EKG’s, MRI’s, etc, and probably notice differences in those with heartache and those without, but there is way more going on than just the physical…

    I have found that being loved by myself, or someone else (friend, family member), or seeing/reading something “heartwarming” will help it go away acutley, but it does take time for it to completley go away until the next major type thing that causes it…

    I have also found that, every time it feels totally “healed”, I can give more love and accept more love, more freely and uninhibited, and that it takes longer and more “hard stuff” to break it again.. Maybe that is because of every time, I learn more about myself and others, so I can sidestep the things that have done it before, at least for a while, therefore I need different and/or more harsh things to break it again….?

    I am intuitively getting the “its time to stop” from myself, so I am going to do so…

    I will be checking back to review all the posts before mine, and see other posters’ responses, as it has only been 4 days since the official “official breakup”. If anyone would like to leave comments for me, I wouldn’t mind, and in fact would appriciate it…

    I thank The Quantum Pontiff for starting the topic off, and the rest of you, besides John and Migallen, for your honest and informitive views…

    I hope that my view helps someone else.
    Peace, Love and Light to us all…

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  75. Alisa says:

    @eliona –
    I was searching for “heartbreak + left hand pain”
    It’s amazing that we all seem to have these experiences! I too haven’t lost my love, but he is 2000 miles away and I don’t know how we can make it work. Today as I realized how difficult if not impossible it will be to make this work my heart literally ached and tingling shot down my arm to the center of my left palm. This has happened before, but only with this relationship. I do believe that there is a very deep soul thing going on – I’ve never felt something so intense. I’m not a young girl, either.

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  76. Alice says:

    I am in tears to think that many of you have experienced and still experience this pain. I have lost other loves and miscarried a child, yet I have never experienced this true physical pain I have felt since saying goodbye to a man I love 4 1/2 years ago. I’m ashamed to say we were and still are both married to other people, but it was not a physical relationship. In fact, I’ve never even met this man in person. We exchanged letters and emails and pictures, yet never met. We actually live on different continents! I know this sounds utterly ridiculous, but after 18 months of communication, we both absolutely felt we were in love. We are both spiritual people and I do feel it was a spiritual connection, although obviously not meant to be. I actually think we would be poorly matched as mates, but there’s still this feeling of attraction and deep spiritual connection. I don’t know what it was, but when my husband discovered how I felt for this man, I told my transatlantic love I had to say goodbye. He said I took a piece of his heart and I feel the same way. I don’t feel the constant pain anymore (it was awful for months), but last night I dreamt of him and I feel it anew. I don’t understand it but am glad others seek an answer so I don’t feel so silly. I know it is real. I also know my heart is healthy–I recently had an EKG. So my fellow heartachers, just know you’re not alone and the pain lessens over time.

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  77. Alice says:

    U know, Alisa, funny we found this thread so late (years!) on, just looking for answer to this sensation all of us feel. It speaks to the fact that this phenomenon is universal and neverending. I, too, am not a young girl and I remembered that, like u, I felt the first of the physical heartache months into my relationship with this man. Being 10,000 (imagine!) miles away from each other, yet feeling such a strong emotional bond was causing me so much pain. Still feel ridiculous having never met the man, but such romances have happened.

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  78. Rachael says:

    Hi, just came across this webpage like many here after searching the net to see if grief and loss can actually be a physical pain in the chest! I lost my mum, granny and granda within 6 months of eachother when I was 16 and I completely blocked the grief out, it took me 10 years to face it, and it definately manifested physically as strong chest pains, like pressure and restriction in the centre of my chest. Recently a relationship has ended and another death of a close friend’s mother and both of these have brought back this chest pain. I am grieving for these losses, although they are minor, but I do believe it is opening up the old losses all over again as well. I don’t think the pain ever goes away, I think you just learn ways to deal with it and most importantly let the emotions and tears flow.

    I find that if I let myself have a really good cry, and vocalise the crying it definately takes the pain away, but sometimes I have to just wait all day to get home from work so I can do this in the peace of my own home and it is physically exhausting as I always fall asleep afterwards. Then when I awaken I have renewed energy to go and get on with something simple, even just washing the dishes in the sink. I have also come to learn that it’s [what i’m going to call] “genuine grief crying” because I ALWAYS yawn over and over again when this is happening. Or even sometimes just thinking about the grief I yawn several times in a row and do feel some release. Anyone else had this yawning thing? I usually hold a rose quartz crystal over my chest when I cry [who knows if it works it may just be a talisman!] and let out sounds, like groaning and moaning and this definately helps release it. I do think there is something very real about sound healing and using your own voice in this way is the same thing.

    My chest pain has been almost constant for the past two weeks now, but word was extra stressful all last week so I think tha had an effect too.

    I am really interested on how emotions physically manifest in the body, I would love to hear of some scientific research on this! And more discussion here.

    Thank goodness it isn’t only me. And I guess this is where the phrase heartache comes from – it IS physical.

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  79. M.W. says:

    Alice, thanks for sharing your story – it sounds quite similar to mine with one significant difference: physical proximity to the one for whom you developed the strong feelings. That blows a hole in the theory of “limbic resonance” as presented in the book “A General Theory of Love”, since that resonance is said to not function well at a distance. hmmmmm… (see my 9/14/07 post above) I’m curious to discuss other similarities and differences if you care to –
    BTW, it’s over 5 years now since my separation, and the heartache pain has mostly subsided, but some of the compulsive behavior is still alive and well…

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  80. Janice says:

    I too have experienced this yawning while going through heartache. Yawning is caused from lack of oxygen. When people are experiencing grief they have a tendency to breath shallow and quick without even realizing it. We yawn to get more oxygen.

    I am experienceing a broken heart right now even though I am still with the one I love. We have been together for three years and I started feeling the pain after our first true fight during year two. The pain eases when things are going perfect but is still always there. Right now things between us are a little shakey and it feels as if my heart is breaking in two. It causes me to have digestive problems, lack of concentration, and actual physical pain in my chest. My Dr. told me that it was anxiety and gave me xanax. It is truely amazing how that one little pill can take the heart ache away for the four hours that its in your system, which makes me think that there is definately an answer for why we have physical pain from heartache. How can we stop the pain when we dont know what it is?? Somehow that pill can take it all away…..and it not magic. If we can make a pill take away an emotion….we should be able to know why. Once we know why we can start to link it to another “why” and so on. I have come to realize that I am feeling this pain because I know that we will not be together forever as I had once thought. So I have started grieving before the event has even taken place. It’s weird. Also, has anyone realized that painkillers dont take away the pain of heartache even though it IS physical pain? I dont take the xanax anymore… doesnt cure anything and I dont recomend it. In fact it prolongs it from ending. You cant get over it until you experience it. You cant experience it if you are drugged.

    One last thing… exercise.

    count your breaths all the way to ten over and over. If you mess up and forget what number your on you have to start over. If you even question that you lost count, go back to one. This takes the pain away for a little bit and lets your mind rest. Its a lot harder to do than you think….especially when your hurting. But you force yourself to keep counting and before you know it you realize that you were at peace for a sec. When I first started doing it I couldnt get past four without having to start over. This also works great to help you sleep. Goodluck to all who are hurting. It definately sucks. If anyone wants to, email me if you want to talk about it at We can swap stories…..that seems to ease the pain also. It’s comforting to know that your not alone.
    Take care,

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  81. LHH says:

    It feels like a real physical ache and it seems to never go away. Not enough pain to make me think I’m having a heart attack, but enough that I am starting to worry if I may be a candidate for one.
    After reading through all the posts it appears that losing a loved one through death, divorce, or abandonment is a common denominator. Too bad more research has not been done in this area.
    My loss was a suicide. I am living day to day but this ache just wont let up. I am proceeding through the grieving process and have even accepted all of it but this ache….. It is really something. I know I am not alone with this feeling but still.
    Have you tried going to the doctor ofr it more than once? They look at you like you have two heads and like you are an addict trying to get a fix. Not everyone is like that. Some of us are really legitimate sufferers.

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  82. Pete says:

    The whole subject is quite amazing, and obviously massively in need of deeper research both psychologically, medically and I think socially. Whoever it was who created this small article (Dave Bacon??) you really should look into the possibilities of writing a book on the subject… you might just make a best seller!

    I also experience physical heartache, and over the past few weeks it has got to a stage where I felt I should do some research, and like many of the rest of contributors, came online to see what I could find out only to encounter the same problem of lack of information.

    I have recently broke up from a relationship that lasted almost two years, although we broke up on mutual grounds and are still good friends. The first time I experienced this feeling was after a messy breakup when I was 21 with a girl I had been in a relationship with for over 4 years and still had a deep emotional connection to.

    I believe the feeling definitely derives from a neurological response to loss… although why the feeling originates around the heart is a real mystery. One thing is for certain in my mind, the feeling of heartache originates from the brains emotional base, the Amygdala. The centre of rational thought processes (the neo cortex) seems to be over-ridden by the intensity of a deep emotional loss.

    I think that much like swans, human behaviour in relationships (on the large) holds a very monogamous primal base. Therefore, we become extremely attached to a particular individual and in some form dedicate ourselves to them (relationship). When a couple break up after a longterm relationship it is common to hear things from at least one party such as, ‘I can’t live without him/her’. It could be argued that this is the emotional brain speaking. Rationally, the person knows they can live without the person, but the intensity of their emotions of loss sends the person into depression/distress etc.

    I think understanding the processes and primal responses that trigger emotional distress to loss are key in understanding why heart ache occurs… although understanding what it is exactly that makes us feel such a specific feeling is the real mystery.

    Some good authors / theorists to look up regarding emotional attachment and the emotional brain are John Bowlby (possibly get a book written about his theories, not by him himself… personally his own writing sends me to sleep!) or Daniel Goleman (extremely interesting read, linked in with scenarios and real life situations.)

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  83. Jeanette says:

    Wow. So happy that I found this site. I lost my husband of
    27 years two weeks ago. He died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 54. There were no signs that this was going to happen. About a week before he had the heart attack, I felt as if I was about to have a heart attack as my heart was aching for a week before he died. Since then I have had terrible heart ache and keep thinking that he is calling me. My left lower arm also aches at times but my heart has not stopped aching. Thank you to all of you for your input and stories as this has helped me to realize what is happening to me. Love to all

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  84. Mike says:

    Just about to book a doctors appointment for a dull ache in my left chest and headaches, loss of appetite, feels very un-nerving. I’m a highly fit athlete and know my body well, I have no history of measurable loss in physical performance or noticed the pain under exercise.

    Now I think back the only time I have the pain is when I experience something connected to my ex-girlfried, being in a certain place for example, to whom I was heavily emotionally involved. This weekend I caught a pure random glimpse of her in a far off place – now it’s back worse than ever. The reaction it caused was hugely physical – my heart was pounding, like heavy thick beats if not that fast – I can feel the associated anxiety – fight or flight… unlike my ex girlfriend the human body is a very impressive thing, as is this thread!

    Cure – higher self; time to sort my head out, life goes on!


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  85. Jordan says:

    the heart is used to identify emotions as opposed to the brain which is used to identify logic. (thinking too hard makes your brain hurt)

    The heart does however control the flow of blood through your body. And the blood is what causes your body to be pale, or make it feel like you don’t have very much energy when you are stressed or sad.

    If you are talking about the actual chest pain you may have, your heart isn’t getting enough oxygen from your blood. the oxygen is being quickly distributed through your body to find the “where it hurts” spot that your brain is saying exists. Try crying, or taking deep steady breaths to re-regulate oxygen flow.

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  86. LH_Think says:

    I didn’t read a all the comments, but I thought I add mine.
    I was surprised about the lack of info on it.
    I am not surprised that there is a physical pain during an emotional pain after all that’s probably how it got it’s name.
    How it happens I leave it to science.
    The cause is simply sadness for me. Not even death. I can watch something fictional on tv and later have heartache. It depends how sensitive you are.
    Some said they have it constantly, mine is temporary and sharp. On the outside, fairly high, closer to my arm, and sometimes radiates right across to the back and up to the shoulder. Only for a few seconds at the time, but as long as I am engulfed in the thoughts(or feelings if you like)
    Since I noticed this 20 years ago and since I had test(stress test) and alike after an accident, I am not worried about heart attack,but I would like to have more information about it. I will try better breathing next time, addressing the oxygen issue. Let me know if someone is doing research, since I can probably induce it if I need to. It is painful and I don’t get a kick out of it, but I think we need more research.

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  87. louvremenot says:

    Something I have not seen mentioned a lot here, to which I experienced, was a bi-polar effect;

    Over excitement, to the extent that my limbs and my chest felt as though they were fizzing and going numb, everything became very brightly coloured and I smiled and had tears of happiness(to a degree), I also couldn’t sit still. (My heart was pumping unusually fast)

    Another person told me they happened to have their blood tested during a time like this, and they’d found the same chemical endorphins that cause the feeling of ecstasy.

    This would last for 15 minutes up to 3 times a day, with the overbearing emotion for the rest of the day being grey and glum. Usual heartache with heavy throat and an awful deep feeling that still felt fuzzy (in an irritating sense) wrapping my entire chest, generally suicidal, like a ‘come down’ from drugs.

    I wonder if it is stress, during heart ache, triggering Adrenaline..

    So, if heartache was ever linked to heart attacks or problems; it could be that the organ could not keep up with the rate that the stress hormone was increasing it to?

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  88. Lea says:

    I recently lost a man who I thought was ‘the one’ to find out the whole relationship was a lie and as the feeling of the floor being pulled from under me subsided, and I thought more rationally, I suffered a massive pain in my chest. I would describe a a stabbing pain everytime I breathed in. I could only guess that it felt as if I had broken a rib and it was stuck in my lung! I have never felt pain like this before and had to keep my hand pressed to my chest on the way to hospital- unfortunately slowly and in wales 🙂
    eventually the doctors admitted that they weren’t sure what was wrong, they thought possibly a broken rib but after x-rays, put it down to muscle damage. I was put on 12 tablets/ painkillers a day and it was left at this. honestly, the physical pain was a welcome break from the mental anguish but I would like to know whether it would have been due to this or just an unlucky time for me. This has now gone and I am now much happier to have him out of my life 🙂

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  89. black swan says:

    I googled “why does the chest hurt during heartache” and rabbit-holed myself to this blog. It’s been interesting to read both the interpretation by MDs on this site, the link to the Johns Hopkins article (, and even the woman talking about how the pain comes from “a break in the 4th chakra, centered over the heart.”

    I was compelled to Google the phrase above because last night, I saw my ex-girlfriend (my ex-common law wife) smiling and snuggling her head into some new boyfriend’s chest. I was not certain she was dating the guy until that moment. Unfortunately I witnessed this while performing on stage during a rock show. She and that guy were in the audience. I started flubbing notes and as the center of my chest started aching, I thought about how embarrassing it would be if I began sobbing mid-song.

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  90. black swan says:

    I also just found this very good article about the science behind the phenomenon farther down the Google results:

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  91. Kaley says:

    I agree it has something to do with bloodpressure, anxiety levels and sex

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  92. Kaley says:

    Women being more emotional would feel “heart ache” more often from frivolous things like a charming movie or book as many men would not anxiety level must have some thing to do with it being more proment in high blood pressure patients

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  93. Tia G. says: Scientific America has some good info. It appears the body reacts to emotional pain the same as physical pain.

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