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Many factors can raise your risk of heart disease: family history of heart problems, obesity and diabetes. And now researchers have found that if you lose a loved one, the grief you feel can also put your cardiovascular system at risk.
Scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found that while grief has always been associated with depression, anxiety and anger, losing someone close also appears to increase heart rate and blood pressure. People experiencing a loss also seem to have changes in their blood that would make it easier to clot, another indicator that they may be at risk of a heart attack.
"Some people would say a 'broken heart' related to the grief response is what leads to these physiologic changes," said senior author Murray Mittleman, M.D. "So that emotional sense of the broken heart may actually [cause] damage leading to a heart attack and a physical broken heart of a sort."
The researchers said that doctors should encourage people who have recently lost loved ones to get their emotional and physical needs met to ensure that they are not increasing their heart attack risk.