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Heartbeats Reveal Heartbreak

Is it really true that you can die of a broken heart?

heartbreak

Photo: Brian Leon (flickr)

While you may be focused on the loss of your loved one, it is also important to look after your own health.

A study shows that elderly people who suffered the loss of a spouse or loved one were more likely to have heart problems. Most notably, the loss resulted in higher heart rate and episodes of tachycardia (rapid heartbeats).

Dying Of A Broken Heart?

It turns out that this may be more than just a poetic expression.

Some people who have lost a dear friend or family member are actually at a greater risk of heart attack and cardiac death.

The Study Of Loss

The study compared a group of people who had recently lost a child or spouse in the hospital to a group of people whose loved ones survived their hospital visit. The average age of the subjects was 65 years old.

The participants heart rates were monitored for 24 hours. They did this measurement within 2 weeks of the loss and again six months later.

In the first measurement, the people who suffered loss had an average heart rate of 75 beats per minute, which was 5 beats higher than the other group’s average. They were twice as likely to have episodes of tachycardia. It should also be noted that they scored higher on depression and anxiety tests, which could be linked to these heart problems.

Recovery Of The Heart & Mind

Fortunately, in the second measurement, most of the patients hearts returned to their normal state.

The moral of the story: The health problems associated with grieving can be very serious. While you may be focused on the loss of your loved one, it is also important to look after your  own health. It may be a good idea to see a doctor during your time of grief.

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Molly Plunkett

is a journalism student at Indiana University and an online producer for A Moment of Science. She is originally from Wheaton, IL.

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