Woman Mistakes Wasabi for Avocado and Ends Up in E.R.

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A big bite gave her “broken heart syndrome,” doctors said.

Nearly everyone’s made a seriously nasty food mistake at some point—expecting what you spread on your cracker to be fig jam when it was onion confit; biting into the lentil burger that you thought was beef. But one woman’s food error landed her in the hospital with chest pain, according to a British Medical Journal case report.

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At a wedding in Israel, the 60-year old woman downed “a large amount” of what she innocently thought was avocado, but turned out to be a mouthful of wasabi. As anyone who’s had too much knows, it burns. It can make your eyes water. The whole fiery experience reverbs through your sinuses.

And it gave this woman chest pain that sent her to the hospital. Reports say that she was diagnosed with “Broken Heart Syndrome”—technically takotsubo cardiomyopathy. That’s when extreme physical or emotional stress can cause one of the chambers of the heart to balloon and can keep your heart from pumping blood effectively.

It has been associated with situations like receiving sudden and unexpected bad (occasionally good) news, accidents, intense fear, asthma attacks, and even fierce arguments and financial loss.

Symptoms are the same as heart attack symptoms, but people with broken heart syndrome usually recover within a month. (Weird fact: Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is the named after a Japanese balloon-looking vessel with a narrow neck, called a tako-tsubo that’s used to catch octopuses.)

Doctors say this is the first time it’s been associated with wasabi—and reportedly the first time it’s been associated with any type of food consumption—and it’s likely due to the extreme dose. She spent some time in cardiac rehab and is now recovered. And, we might assume, thinking twice about whether that guacamole is something else.


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