For many people, mistaking wasabi for avocado would be an eye-watering experience. For an Israeli woman, it was heartbreaking. The 60-year-old woman said she felt pressure in her chest that lasted for hours after mistakenly consuming about a teaspoon of wasabi at a wedding, according to a case described in BMJ Case Reports. When she went to a hospital the next day, doctors initially believed she had suffered a heart attack, but tests revealed that her heart had become misshapen as a result of a condition known as takotsubo cardiomyopathy or "broken heart syndrome," which is found in around 5% of women suspected of having heart attacks, reports the Washington Post.
The condition usually occurs in women between 58 and 75 and is often the result of a death of a loved one or a similarly stressful event. The condition, first described by doctors in Japan in 1991, causes the left ventricle to become enlarged and unable to pump blood properly. The condition, believed to be caused by a surge of stress hormones, is usually reversible. Study author Dr. Alona Finkel-Oron tells NBC that the woman was able to go home after four days in the hospital. After around a month, her heart had returned to its normal shape. Researchers say this is the first known case of wasabi triggering the condition. (In rare cases, extreme happiness can cause broken heart syndrome.)