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Heart Attack Risk Rises After Loss of Loved One

Posted Jan 28 2012 10:11pm
Posted on 2012-01-25 06:00:00 in Cardio-Vascular | Death and Dying |

While there is widespread anecdotal evidence that the death of a loved one can lead to declining health in survivors, few studies have looked at the acute effect of bereavement and grief on myocardial infarction.  Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Massachusetts, USA) interviewed approximately 1,985 patients who suffered myocardial infarctions (heart attacks), over a five-year period. Patients were asked a series of questions about potentially triggering events, including losing someone close to them in the past year.  The team revealed that not only does a person's risk of suffering a heart attack increases by approximately 21 times in the first 24 hours after losing a loved one, but the risk of heart attack remained eight times above normal during the first week after the death of a loved one – and slowly declined (but remained elevated) for at least a month. The study authors conclude that: “Grief over the death of a significant person was associated with an acutely increased risk of [myocardial infarction] in the subsequent days.”

Elizabeth Mostofsky, Malcolm Maclure, Jane B. Sherwood, Geoffrey H. Tofler, James E. Muller, Murray A. Mittleman.  “Risk of Acute Myocardial Infarction after Death of a Significant Person in One's Life: The Determinants of MI Onset Study.”  Circulation, January 9, 2012.

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