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Jan 04, 2017 08:33 AM EST

Broken Heart Syndrome: How Loss Of A Loved One Can Increase Your Risk Of A Heart Attack

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Certain events in life, like losing someone you love, are impossible to prepare for and the grief that it entails is not only detrimental to one's emotional health but can also be physically damaging, according to research.

An example is the most recent death of Debbie Reynolds who died as she suffered a stroke hours after the death of her daughter Carrie Fisher. A growing body of research finds that the shock of death by a loved one can take a toll on a person's physical health and can even cause stroke and heart attack, according to the Daily Mail.

According to Dr Derek Connolly, consultant cardiologist at Birmingham City Hospital, Debbie Reynolds suffered a so-called Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy or Broken Heart Syndrome. He explained that this usually happens within 48 hours after a bereavement and that this is common among old ladies who have lost their husbands, though it is also possible to old parents who have lost their children.

Broken heart syndrome is characterized by dizziness, arm and chest pain and shortness of breath, which are similar to the symptoms of a heart attack, said Dr. Connolly. Further investigation reveals that patients of this condition do not have cholesterol buildup that are found with those who suffered from heart attacks. What happens is that the stress and the shock cause the muscles in the walls of the arteries to squeeze which deprives some parts of the heart with blood.

These findings were similar to the results of another study led by Dr. Sunil Shah of St George's at the University of London where he also defined the direct effect of the bereavement to the health of the heart, according to a report by BBC.

These studies are vital to remind how important it is for those who are left behind to take care of their own health and look for the signs of illness after the bereavement to avoid suffering from this condition.

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