MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Debbie Reynolds’ son says the death of his sister, Carrie Fisher, was too much for their mother.

He believes that is what triggered her fatal stroke.

Reynolds’ death raises the question: Can a person really die from a broken heart?

(credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Turns out, the answer is yes.

It is a phenomenon called “broken heart syndrome,” and it has to do with stress hormones, like adrenaline.

“In an extremely stressful, especially a sudden stressful state, there is a large amount of release of these hormones and there is a possible toxicity that they can pose to the heart muscle, rendering it weak,” said Dr. Dina Sparano, a cardiologist with University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.

Stress brought on by grief or anxiety can cause sudden, intense chest pain and can lead to heart failure. It typically happens in women over the age of 50.

Doctors say most people who suffer from broken heart syndrome make a full recovery, but they add that it is not just emotional stress that can trigger it; intense physical stress can as well.