Risks of a broken heart

"Broken heart" risks

The loss of a loved one brings with it overwhelming feelings of grief, anger and depression. Medically speaking, hearts don't "break" from loss, but they can suffer damage from the intense emotions you experience.

A recent study of nearly 2,000 heart attack survivors found that attacks were far more likely to happen after the death of a loved one. About 14 percent of participants said they lost someone close to them within the previous six months. This research indicates that a heart attack is 21 times more likely to happen within 24 of a death than in the following one to six months. 

Dr. Eugene Storozynsky, a cardiologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, says that, "Adding grief to traditional risk factors of coronary artery disease, whether it’s smoking, hypertension, or family history, the grief may potentially put you over the edge."

Grief also has the tendency to make blood clot more frequently, which may increase your risk of a stroke.

There are a few steps you can take to reduce your own risk: 

  • Always try to get an adequate amount of sleep (6-8 hours). 
  • Eat properly: Make healthy choices when possible. 
  • Maintain a walking or more rigorous exercise regimen. 
  • Talk about it: It helps come to terms with the loss and includes others in the healing process.

Get grief help

Community's In-Touch Grief and Bereavement services offer support opportunities for adults and children. To learn more, call 317-621-4646 or visit eCommunity.com/grief.