Could Tawny Kitaen Really Have Died Of A Broken Heart?

Tawny Kitaen, an actress who starred in the 1984 movie "Bachelor Party" alongside Tom Hanks, died on May 7, 2021. The cause of death has not been determined, but her brother believes that Kitaen died of a broken heart (via TMZ).

Although Kitaen had a long history of substance abuse, police found nothing at her home where she was found dead that suggested drugs or alcohol were a factor in her death. Jordan Kitaen, Tawny's brother, told police a few days after his sister's death that he believes she died of a broken heart after their father's recent passing.

According to TMZ, Kitaen's father passed away on April 12th from cancer. His funeral was scheduled just a few days after Kitaen was found in her home. Jordan believes that this was "too much for Tawny's system to handle" because of how close she was to her father. According to Jordan, who spoke to Kitaen the night before she died, she was in good spirits and looking forward to Mother's Day. Police said there is also no evidence that she took her own life.

Broken heart syndrome is a rare but real heart condition

Dying from a broken heart sounds like something out of a tragic romance novel, but there is actually some science behind this phenomenon. According to Mayo Clinic, broken heart syndrome is a disease caused by intense heartbreak and the resulting stress. Also referred to as stress cardiomyopathy, takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or apical ballooning syndrome, broken heart syndrome is a reaction your heart has to the flood of stress hormones your body releases after an emotionally traumatic event such as grief, anger, or surprise.

This condition prevents the heart from operating normally which, in the worst and most rare cases, can cause heart failure and death. The rush of hormones including epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine to the heart after the stress-inducing incident can paralyze the muscle and stop the left ventricle from contracting effectively. It can present itself within a few hours of an emotional shock or can build up over time depending on the stress levels of the person. People over 50 are in the highest risk category and women are significantly more likely to be affected than men.

This heart condition can be treated when caught early, but it is difficult to prevent because everyone responds to stress so differently.