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Broken heart syndrome increases heart attack risk


Heart attack risk after bereavement is much higher for several weeks after the loss of a loved one. In fact, the day of loss, heart attack risk is an alarming twenty-one times higher. This is according to an article published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

It is important to look for signs of heart failure in the bereaved person. Make sure they relax and maintain the medications, often this is something that is forgotten in grief. Murray Mittleman, MD, Dr.PH, a preventive cardiologist and epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and School of Public Health’s epidemiology department in Boston, explained, “Caretakers, heath care providers, and the bereaved themselves need to recognize they are in a period of heightened risk in the days and weeks after hearing of someone close dying.”

Broken hearts syndrome may be a well-documented effect, but it hasn’t been well studied and has been believed to be a short term event. The grieving process may cause loss of sleep, decreased appetite and higher cortisol levels, an indicator of stress. All of these symptoms are associated with heart attack. Additionally, a person in shock, dealing with grief and depression, will neglect medications, eat incorrectly or fail to eat at all, may eat harmful foods or drink and smoke more.

“During situations of extreme grief and psychological distress, you still need to take care of yourself and seek medical attention for symptoms associated with a heart attack,” advised Mittleman.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Circulation

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