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50 percent increased chance of dying due to ‘broken heart’

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Published : 2014-03-04 15:42
Updated : 2014-03-04 15:42

According to a study conducted by St. George’s University of London in Britain published in JAMA, the chances of experiencing a stroke or heart attack after a partner’s death doubles within the first 30 days, Medical News Today reported.
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The researchers designed an experiment to find a link between a “broken heart” and increased chances of dying due to cardiovascular problems. The team assessed the rate of strokes or heart attacks in patients over the age of 60 whose partners have died, then compared them to those whose partners were still alive.

The results showed that there was 50 percent increase in the chance of cardiovascular attacks for those who lost their loved one. Sixteen per 10,000 people whose partners died had heart attacks or strokes within 30 days of their partner’s death; compared to only 8 out of 10,000 of those whose partners did not die.

However, after 30 days, the increased risk of death due to cardiovascular problems started to fall in individuals who lost a loved one.

“We often use the term a ‘broken heart’ to signify the pain of losing a loved one and our study shows that bereavement can have a direct effect on the health of the heart.”, said Sunil Shah, co-author and senior lecturer at St. George’s University of London.

Shah added that previous studies showed how partner loss and grief can lead to changes in blood clotting, blood pressure and heart rate control. Moreover, in the first few months of grieving, individuals may not consistently take their regular preventive medication, such as cholesterol-lowering drugs or aspirin.

Inconsistent intake of preventive medication and increased pressure on the cardiovascular system can contribute to increased risks of death due to cardiovascular events, hence, doctors, friends and family should be aware of this elevated rise, Shah advised.

By Ha Ji-won, intern reporter (jiwonha@heraldcorp.com)

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