Article courtesy of the Chicago Tribune
Love is such an intense emotion that losing someone you love can cause profound grief. All of us grieve differently, and in some people, the emotional and psychological impact of grief can manifest itself physically by triggering a heart attack or causing a serious–albeit temporary–disease of the heart muscle.
Heart Attack Risk Rises
Researchers at Harvard Medical School have shown that the chance of having a heart attack is 21 times higher than normal during the first 24 hours following the death of a loved one. And while grief does not disappear overnight, neither does the risk of heart attack; it starts dropping on the second day, but remains nearly six times above normal for a week, and may still be higher than normal 30 days after the loved one has passed away.
The risk of having a grief-related heart attack varies, with the greatest risk found in those who are already at risk because of existing heart disease or its risk factors.
According to the researchers, heart attacks are likely triggered by an increase in heart rate and blood pressure that are a natural response to psychological stress.
And yes, the study, published last year in Circulation, also seems to show that it is possible to die of a broken heart. The researchers determined that the risk of dying from heart disease in the months following the death of a loved one increases 20 percent to 53 percent.
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