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How Dangerous Is It to Have a “Broken Heart”?

In 2012, research published by the American Heart Association quantified how the stress caused by intense grief after the loss of a partner can affect the surviving spouse. The research indicates that individuals are 21 times more likely to die of a heart attack in the 24 hours following the loss of a loved one. Studying patients from 1989 to 1994, researchers found that during the first week of bereavement, the risk is almost six times higher than normal. As the loss sinks in, the risks gradually decline further. Earlier studies have also shown that grieving widows and widowers have a higher long-term risk of dying, with heart attacks and strokes accounting for more than half of those deaths.

When stress becomes a killer:

  • The study was the first to look specifically at heart attack risk in the first days and weeks after bereavement.

  • The researchers said that stress from intense grief increases heart rate, blood pressure, and blood clotting, Also, loss of sleep and appetite can depress the immune system, which may aggravate existing medical conditions.

  • Eighty-four-year-old actress Debbie Reynolds died from a stroke on 28 December 2016, one day after learning that her 60-year-old daughter, Carrie Fisher, had suffered a fatal heart attack -- a tragic reminder about the power of grief.

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anon997787
Post 2

This article does not include relationship breakups, correct?

anon997785
Post 1

Widows and widowers have a higher long term risk of dying? Don't we all have a long term "risk" of dying?

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