Richard Watkins is lucky to be alive – he survived what many call the broken heart syndrome.
“It was a matter of how the stress affected the way my heart operated,” Watkins told Inside Edition.
Broken heart syndrome, known formally as Takotsubo syndrome, is happening more and more due to the stress of the coronavirus pandemic and the economic chaos that followed.
Watkins, 64, has never had a prior history of heart problems, but he has certainly been under stress. He has been homeschooling his 10- and 12-year-old sons and is dealing with a shutdown at his job as a business executive.
His 91-year-old father had just passed away. On the morning of the funeral, Watkins fell sick.
“I started feeling this strange tightness in my back, then the back of my arms went numb,” he explained. “I just kind of put my head down on the kitchen table and that was it, I was out. My heart actually stopped beating.”
His wife added, “We saw him flat line. I saw him turn blue.” She says she gets emotional thinking of the day.
“I did CPR to save his life,” she said. “It was hard, we see things differently. You need to enjoy life.”
When Watkins was finally released from the hospital, welcome home signs greeted him.
He says it was great to be home, having learned a vital lesson: “Stress is in our lives every day. I didn’t realize how it had been piling up.”
Watkins isn’t alone in suffering from broken heart syndrome.
Some believe President George H.W. Bush died of broken heart syndrome, eight months after burying his wife Barbara.