When Her Boyfriend Left Her, This Woman Nearly Died From A Broken Heart

Image: Facebook/Helen Ross

Romantic love can be an addictive emotion, and its nature is an enduring mystery which by turns unites, motivates, frustrates and inspires us in all areas of human activity. And where there’s love there’s often heartbreak too, whether it’s within a relationship or as the result of losing someone. Some say you can’t die from a broken heart, but Helen Ross has a different story to tell.

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Helen Ross suffered one of the most acute meltdowns conceivable after her relationship with her long-term partner disintegrated. The English model, now 38, was left “inconsolable” and heartbroken. And it wasn’t just her mental wellbeing that was affected; the break-up nearly dealt a fatal to blow to the Kent resident’s physical health too.

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Ross’s relationship with her partner, Andy, lasted seven years. She was just 26 years old when they broke up in 2006 and it’s safe to say she had never felt devastation like it. They were just about to embark on a new chapter in their life together. She couldn’t imagine her life without him.

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The pair had recently taken a big step in their relationship by buying a house together just before they separated. Canterbury resident Ross had done her best to keep the relationship alive. She told newspaper Metro in November 2018, “I’d given [Andy] an ultimatum but he didn’t take the final chance. I loved him to bits and could have never pictured myself without him after we’d built a life together – we’d only just bought a house.”

Image: Facebook/Helen Ross

Her friends and family rallied around her, persuading her to put distance between herself and her ex to minimize the temptation of getting back together with him. Ross recounted the advice they had given her; “It had only been a few days, but my friends and family were telling me to just go – that way I wouldn’t be tempted to take Andy back.”

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Ross duly took their advice and jetted off to Florida very soon after the break-up. She had been commissioned some modeling work over there for a few sports and leisurewear clothing brands; it seemed like a golden opportunity to get away from it all. It wasn’t long, however, before misfortune struck.

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Just 24 hours after she arrived, Ross collapsed during a modeling session and was rushed to Florida Hospital East Orlando. She was kept in overnight so the team could monitor her heart and diagnose her condition. Whilst she was asleep, doctors at the hospital were shocked by the events that unfolded.

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It turned out that the cause of her collapse was that her heart had stopped beating momentarily. This happened again whilst she was asleep, a turn of events that left the doctors anxious about Ross’s chances of survival. Fortunately, Helen slept through the saga and awoke blissfully unaware of what had transpired.

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Ross woke up to a nurse watching over her. She immediately asked Helen how she had slept. Ignorant to what had happened overnight, the model reported that she had slept very peacefully. As she later said to Metro, “I told her fine – as far as I was concerned, I’d slept like a baby.”

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The nurse then revealed the shocking truth to Ross; that she had had a close encounter with death. The model later recounted to newspaper the Daily Mirror what the nurse told her next: “She told me my heart had stopped beating while I was asleep – it had flatlined.”

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The medic went on to say that when her heart had stopped overnight, doctors had rushed to get a defibrillator to start again. But incredibly, when they arrived back, her heart had restarted by itself, a phenomenon technically described in medical circles as “pot luck.”

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Naturally, Ross had been dismayed by the news. She told Metro, “I was shocked and couldn’t believe it had happened while I was asleep, I could easily have died!” Medics went on to say that the same thing had probably happened before she had been admitted to hospital when she had collapsed at her photo-shoot.

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In an attempt to get the root of the problem, the doctors asked if she had undergone any significant stress in the last few weeks. She told them that she had just gone through a break-up which they immediately attributed as the cause of her health scare. It looked like the emotional trauma had actually caused her heart to stop beating.

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The doctors concluded that this was probably the main cause behind the recent events. They diagnosed her condition as stress-induced cardiomyopathy, a condition where one of the heart’s four chambers swells to an abnormal size. As a result, the organ is less effective in pumping blood around the body.

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Commonly known as “broken heart syndrome”, the condition is often associated with events such as bereavements or break-ups that can induce intense emotional trauma. According to the American Heart Association’s (AHA) website, the disorder is mainly related to stress, depression and mental health, and it can affect anyone, regardless of their physical condition.

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The AHA website says the symptoms of the condition are often mistaken for those of a heart attack. It can cause breathlessness, chest pain and a change in the pace of blood flow. Unlike a heart attack, however, there are usually no lasting consequences. Recovery periods are relatively short and recurrences are rare.

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The doctors were surprised to see someone of Ross’s age suffering from the condition, as it more usually afflicts the elderly – after all, Helen was only 26 at the time. “It isn’t entirely uncommon in elderly people who lose their life partner,” she explained to Metro, “but it was rare in someone so young.”

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The condition is also more common in women, who the AHA says are more prone to the chest pain caused by a highly traumatic event. Little is known about the syndrome, as scientists are still learning about the causes and working out the best treatment. Indeed, most people aren’t even aware of the condition to begin with.

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Ross herself had no idea the condition existed. The astonished model told Metro, “I had never heard of broken heart syndrome before it happened to me. I couldn’t believe a break-up could affect me physically, to the point where I could have died.”

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Ross stayed at the hospital for three days before returning to the U.K.. Once home, she was airlifted to Scunthorpe General Hospital where her dad was waiting to support her. Soon, she was fitted with a vital piece of kit that would hopefully prevent any similar future incidents.

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Scunthorpe General Hospital medics fitted Ross with a pacemaker that regulated her heart rate. She retained it until 2014 when she was given the all-clear after eight incident-free years. Ever since, it’s been onwards and upwards for Helen.

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First of all, Ross made a very important resolution to never to depend so heavily on a partner again. The model told Metro, “It taught me to focus on the positives and everything I have going for me, as well as to love myself more. I know now I will never let myself get in that position again.”

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Independent and single as a pringle, Ross decided to work on herself. She moved out of her house and signed up for a course in Equine Sciences at the University of Lincoln. Today, she lives with her two sons, Hugo, six, and Henry, five.

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HRP Equestrian has seen the awards come flooding in. The Beta International Innovation Awards 2016 recognized Ross’s business as a winner in its Saddlery and Track category. The saddles have been used by British equestrian athletes and the London Police. Helen has also appeared in magazines such as Horse and Hound.

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HRP Equestrian has seen the awards come flooding in. The Beta International Innovation Awards 2016 recognized Ross’s business as a winner in its Saddlery and Track category. The saddles have been used by British equestrian athletes and the London Police. Helen has also appeared in magazines such as Horse and Hound.

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Image: Facebook/Helen Ross

As for Ross herself, she has been recognized far and wide for her achievements. She was chosen as a keynote speaker for The Business Show in November 2018, where she spoke about the importance of perseverance. In addition, she’s been interviewed by website honestmum.com in their Wonderful Women series.

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Image: Facebook/Helen Ross

As the successes kept rolling in for her equestrian business, Ross also found time to set up a charity. Hugs 4 Lungs is a 24/7 helpline that Helen set up for adults and children experiencing problems with breathing. Importantly, the helpline is available all night, when respiratory problems can be at their worst.

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Image: Facebook/Helen Ross

Ross’s motivation was her son Hugo, who has a potentially fatal lung condition. Because his airways have less rigidity than is usual, his airways can close up while he is lying down. Terrifyingly for Helen, it meant she could never be sure that her son would wake up if he fell asleep prone.

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The charity was set up in 2014, which Ross admitted was a “very low point in my life.” On Facebook, Helen shared the anxiety of raising a child with breathing problems: “I was singlehandedly raising my two babies alone and my eldest had life threatening multiple airway malacia. Every night I held Hugo upright so he could sleep and breathe and it was a harrowing lonely existence.”

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Ross went on to explain how she came up with the service Hugs 4 Lungs provided: “There was no dedicated 24-hour helpline to support parents of children with breathing difficulties, so I needed to create one. In doing so, my bleak personal outlook suddenly had a positive focus.”

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While Ross has had more than her fair share of troubles, it would seem that the model is not the only person unlucky enough to suffer physically from a broken heart. Dawn Loates, 81, told The British Heart Foundation (BHF) about her own, slightly differing experience with the rare condition. On the BHF website the pensioner recounted how she had been outside gardening when her heart began racing, and she was suddenly struck by a terrible headache.

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The next morning, her husband advised Loates should go to hospital. The doctors speculated that it might have been a heart attack, but the test results came back all clear; none of Dawn’s arteries were blocked. Only after more tests did was it discovered that parts of the bottom of her heart were misshapen.

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However, Loates was confused; she had not endured a particularly stressful event, like many of the victims of the condition, which is also known as takotsubo syndrome. The pensioner certainly didn’t feel like her heart had been broken. In truth, the cause behind what had happened was unclear.

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Suddenly, Loates had this condition to deal with and had to adapt her life around it. Dawn told the BHF, “When I went home I was very breathless. Even walking two steps affected my breathing. I felt as though I had a tight band across my chest and no energy. I just sat there. I felt frightened.”

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Loates found it difficult to enjoy life with the sparse information available on broken heart syndrome. She could no longer engage in some of her favorite pastimes, which she found upsetting. The pensioner was advised to generally be less active because it wasn’t clear what level of physical exertion was medically sensible in her situation.

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She found herself in a permanent state of confusion, saying, “I was left wondering whether it was getting better or not and if it could happen again.” She added, “A lot of people do not know much about this condition, and this made me feel more vulnerable.”

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Fortunately, Loates discovered a wonderful way of coping with it all; mosaics. “I decided to do something creative,” Dawn explained. “After researching the condition, I made a mosaic showing a broken heart, an octopus and an octopus pot. This was therapeutic and really helped me during my recovery.”

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She turned the disease into a beautiful piece of art which eventually aided her recovery. Once Loates had undergone her final heart checks, Dawn welcomed the news that she was healed and could stop taking medication. She told the BHF, “It took me another two months to feel back to my ‘old self’, but after this I felt much happier.”

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As with Ross, Loates’s recovery was made easier by the people around her. “My husband is wonderful,” she mused. “He was marvelous, I’m very lucky to have a very supportive family.” Dawn’s mosaic stands as a monument to her perseverance with the condition.

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Image: Facebook/Helen Ross

For Loates and Ross, this little-understood syndrome hit at the most unexpected time, changing their lives forever. For Helen, a thriving business and charity was born out of her experience, while Dawn’s passion for art reached new heights. So although it can have serious and unexpected repercussions, both women have emphatically proved that one can recover from a broken heart.

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