BOSTON, Jan. 12 (UPI) — A broken heart caused by the death of a close loved one can increase the risk of heart attack in the days and weeks after the death, U.S. researchers say.
Dr. Murray Mittleman of Harvard Medical School’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and School of Public Health in Boston said the study of 1,985 adult heart attack survivors showed heart attack risk increased to 21 times higher than normal within the first day after the death of a significant person in one’s life.
The risk was almost six times higher than normal within the first week and then declined steadily for the remainder of the first month.
“Caretakers, healthcare 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,” Mittleman said in a statement.
The study, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, found the increased risk of heart attack within the first week after a loss ranges from one per 320 people with a high heart attack risk to one per 1,394 people with a low-heart attack risk.
Researchers reviewed charts and interviewed patients while in the hospital after a confirmed heart attack from 1989 to 1994.
The researchers estimated the relative risk of a heart attack by comparing the number of patients who had someone close to them die in the week before their heart attack to the number of deaths of significant people in their lives from one to six months before their heart attack.