LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- People of Benguet, especially those in highland areas who have been hard hit by the recent typhoons, may suffer from "broken heart syndrome," a clinical professor said.

Doctor Tali Bashour, a clinical Professor of Medicine from the University of California in San Francisco, has been linking emotions to heart diseases and advised the doctors in the province not to dismiss the symptoms of the broken heart syndrome.

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His study linking emotional stress to heart ailments apply to people under extreme emotional stress and trauma. "These are places which have been hit by natural disasters like, floods, earthquakes and tsunamis," he said.

Bashour said although heartbreak is usually associated with losing a spouse or loved ones, it can also refer to emotional indicators.

Studies revealed that physical pain one may feel in the chest as a result of the loss of a loved one could trigger the brain to distribute chemicals that weaken heart tissue.

Bashour said local doctors in the province should treat people with the broken heart syndrome with as much caution as regular heart disease patients. "The problem is that sometimes the symptoms are easily dismissed."

People of this highland town have been through physical and emotional trauma for the past months, with some families rendered homeless. The town has also seen one of the largest numbers of deaths from the recent typhoon.

With this, Bashour spoke before the Baguio Benguet Medical Society and asked local doctors to look out for the signs of broken heart syndrome in their patients.

The syndrome could explain human reaction to emotional stress dating back to the time of Romeo and Juliet, during the Shakespearean era, doctors said.

Bashour cited several cases where emotional stress led to heart attacks. In the course of his studies, he said extreme emotions could trigger heart ailments like joy, anger, jealousy and disgust.

The doctor is in town for five days, giving his services to the people of Benguet in a medical mission sponsored by the Philippine Medical Society of Northern California.

"I have been joining these missions for the past 14 years," he said.

Bashour has authored over 120 medical publications. He is currently working on strengthening ties with several medical centers in the US and promoting faculty and student exchange programs with schools outside of America.