You know all those stories you hear about one member of a long-time couple dying, and then the other one dying very shortly thereafter? Well, a new study may explain a thing or two about why. Turns out you can literally die of a broken heart. Yes, really. Broken-heart syndrome is no myth.
A study published this week in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, found that people are at a significantly higher risk of having a heart attack after someone they love dies.
Their risk of a heart attack is 21 times higher than normal the day after the loved one's death, and six times higher than normal in the first week. It remains elevated for about a month, though it does return to normal over time.
Though these findings constitute a breakthrough, they're really not very surprising.
Anyone who has had their heart broken or lost someone close to them knows that loss takes a physical toll on our bodies. Depression, anger, and anxiety can elevate our blood pressure and stress our hearts. But more than that, we often forget to take care of ourselves. We don't eat. We can't sleep. And exercise? Forget it. We're so absorbed in our grief that our own health becomes sorely neglected. Danger signs, well, we just ignore them.
This study should seve as a reminder that, when we lose someone close to us (whether the loss comes via death or breakup, which was not a focus of the study, but still …), we need to make an extra effort to take care of ourselves. It's important to us, and to the loved ones still in our lives.
What do you think of the study's conclusion that broken-heart syndrome is real?
Image via miguelpdl/Flickr