Grief causes higher risk of heart attack, study finds

11 January 2012

People suffering from grief after a loved one has died are at increased risk of having cardiac problems, it has been revealed.

Researchers in the US have found that a heart attack is 21 times more likely within the first day of bereavement and six times more likely within the first seven days following a death.

Lead investigator Dr Murray Mittleman of Harvard Medical School's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center said: "During situations of extreme grief and psychological distress, you still need to take care of yourself and seek medical attention for symptoms associated with a heart attack."

He added that out of the 2,000 people studied, those who had lost someone close to them were at a significantly heightened risk of heart complications due to the stress on the muscle that could cause shortness of breath and chest pain.

Furthermore, the psychological stress associated with a death in the family can raise heart rate, blood pressure and the risk of blood clotting.

Researchers at the University of Missouri recently found a unique protein organisation in arteries that could be associated with the onset of cardiovascular disease.

Posted by Edward Bartel

Meininger G, et al., "Spatial Distribution and Mechanical Function of Elastin in Resistance Arteries",Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, the Journal of the American Heart Association, January 9th 2012

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