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Spouses of heart attack victims suffer similar to PTSD


When a person suffers a sudden heart attack, the attention and effort are given to the ailing. But often forgotten is the stress put upon the spouse of the patient. Spouses of sudden heart attack victims are at an increased risk for depression, anxiety or suicide after their spouse becomes ill.

Three times more likely to suffer clinical depression

Researchers found that in the year after the loss of a partner to heart attack, the surviving spouse is three times more likely to be on antidepressants. They suffer more than the spouses who lose a partner to other health conditions. Additionally, they found that men were at a higher risk than women for depression and suicide after their wives survived or died from an acute myocardial infarction (AMI).

Many health issues observed

More than three times the number of people whose partner died were on antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications during the 12 months following the death compared to the 12 months before. Spouses of patients who did not survive an AMI had a higher risk of depression and suicide. “Spouses of those who experience AMIs – both fatal and non-fatal – are at elevated risk for psychological consequences; therefore, the care need of AMI patients and their spouses need to be considered,” concluded the report of Emil Fosbol, lead researcher.

Could be treated like PTSD

The authors suggested that the unexpected nature of AMI leads to trauma for surrounding family members not unlike post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It may be advantageous to treat the spouse with the same protocols as PTSD. “If your partner dies suddenly from a heart attack, you have ni time to prepare psychologically for the death, whereas if someone is ill with, for example, cancer, there is more time to grow used to the idea,” explained Fosbol.

Source: Medical News Today

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