#MindTheBard: Broken Heart (Romeo & Juliet)

Edward Hogg in Romeo & Juliet
Photo credit: Robert Workman

Let’s just say this hasn’t been the most typical of weeks, as far as the Giant Microbes are concerned, as the final pick is ‘broken heart’ – inspired by Romeo & Juliet. Though the two lovers don’t die of broken hearts, the combination of living in the pressure cooker of a familial feud (the Montagues & Capulets have been at odds for so long) and falling desperately in love with the wrong person pushes them to the edge, causing death by suicide.

Scrubs fans may remember the episode ‘My House’, in which Dr Cox diagnoses a series of mystery illnesses (à la House), including a case of takotsubo cardiomyopathy: broken heart syndrome, to you and me. Generally emotional or physical distress (such as bereavement, financial worries, domestic abuse) will trigger this condition, which causes the left ventricle to enlargen and change shape, thus weakening the cardiac muscle and preventing blood from being pumped as effectively as it should be. It’s more likely to affect women than men, and presents with symptoms similar to that of a heart attack (chest pain & shortness of breath); sometimes there are other symptoms, such as palpitations, nausea & vomiting. In Scrubs, JD imagines that broken heart syndrome is treated using a box of kittens, whereas in actual fact you would be prescribed medication to try & treat any symptoms you’re experiencing, as well as the changes in your heart’s structure. Typically doctors use diuretics (to reduce fluid build-up), beta-blockers & ACE inhibitors (to decrease the strain on your heart and get it working more effectively), and blood thinning medication (if you’re at high risk of developing blood clots or arrhythmia). If treated, the heart should start to return to normal within a few days, though some patients’ hearts will experience a permanent change in shape and a continuation of symptoms (e.g. tiredness, chest pain & lack of sleep).

Photo credit: cardiachealth.org
Image credit: The Hitchcock Project for Visualizing Science
Scrubs: My House (S06E04)

“A pair of star-crossed lovers”
Chorus, Romeo & Juliet (Act 1 Prologue)

“For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”

Prince, Romeo & Juliet (Act 5 Scene 3)

Today’s quotes are the bookends of Romeo & Juliet’s tragic love story, which ends in heartbreak. This lethal end is foreseen in the prologue, meaning there is an inevitability about the couple’s trajectory; fate has spoken, and they will not be getting out of there alive.

There are so many different productions, adaptations & films of Romeo & Juliet out there, so you’ll be spoilt for choice! Start off with The Show Must Go Online (it’s free!), but do watch the Baz Luhrmann film if you haven’t already (it’s included in your Disney+ subscription, or is available on DVD/Blu-ray or digital). BritBox has the most recent RSC production, Globe Player has Dominic Dromgoole’s 2009 show to rent or buy, and an Encore screening of the Branagh Theatre Company production (starring Lily James & Richard Madden) at selected cinemas for a limited time.

Design credit: www.designevo.com

2 thoughts on “#MindTheBard: Broken Heart (Romeo & Juliet)

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