The woman lost her 9-year-old Yorkshire terrier when she was diagnosed with broken heart syndrome.

Joanie Simpson, 62, from Houston, Texas, woke up with a pain in her back and within moments her chest started hurting.

Within 20 minutes she was at a local A&E and was then airlifted to a hospital in Houston.

Doctors prepared to receive a patient who was showing signs of a heart attack but when they did tests on her, she was diagnosed with Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, a condition which mimics heart attacks.

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy usually happens following the loss of a spouse or child, hence why it is more commonly known as broken-heart syndrome.

But Simpson hadn’t lost a spouse or a child. She had recently lost her beloved Yorkshire terrier, who had been suffering from congestive heart failure.

Simpson had made an appointment to have her euthanised in May last year but when the day came, the dog seemed fine so she canceled the appointment.

Meha died the next day.

The 62-year-old, who previously worked in medical transcription, said: ‘The kids were grown and out of the house, so she was our little girl.’ Her experience, which happened last year, was revealed in the New England Journal of Medicine as an example of a ‘very concise, elegant case’ where the condition led to very real and, in some other cases, fatal symptoms.

Essentially, grieving for a sick pet or one that has passed away can have just the same effect as the death of a human, the research showed.

Simpson said: ‘It is heartbreaking. It is traumatic. It is all of the above. But you know what? They give so much love and companionship that I’ll do it again. I will continue to have pets. That’s not going to stop me.’

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