A study has revealed that people who lose a partner are at a higher risk of heart problems for up to a year.
Researchers discovered that the death or loss of a person close to you can cause not only emotional damage but also physical changes reports Time.
This isn’t the first time scientists have looked similar phenomena – with stress cardiomyopathy, or ‘broken heart syndrome’ now widely recognised.
It occurs when a highly stressful event – like the death of a loved one – causes a person to feel like they’re having heart attack which experts suspect is caused by a surge of stress hormones.
However in the new study, published in Open Heart, researchers looked at whether losing a partner could also contribute to a higher risk of atrial fibrillation – irregular heartbeat – and if so, how much.
The team used a sample of 88,600 in Denmark who had been diagnosed with irregular heartbeat and the results were surprising.
People who had lost a partner were 41 per cent more likely to develop the condition in the month immediately afterwards than those who hadn’t and their higher risk continued for a year.
They also discovered the risk was especially high for younger people, and people whose partner died suddenly or unexpectedly.
Study author Simon Graff, a researcher in the Department of Public Health at Aarhus University said:
This study adds evidence to the growing knowledge that the mind-heart link is a powerful association.
Broken heart syndrome is a different disease with a whole other pathology, but some of the pathophysiological mechanisms might be the same.
Graff admits the study cannot confirm that feelings of loss are directly responsible for atrial fibrillation among those in the study, but equally it’s not the first to suggest that severe emotional events can cause heart problems.
Right now our work can only point to an association, but we hope to help make a shift in society’s mindset – that a time of grief is not only a mental state but maybe also physical.
Which does make a lot of sense to be honest…