The dangers of a broken heart aren't just for poets and songwriters. Turns out, the risk of heart attack is 21 times higher than normal the first day after the death of a significant loved one and six times higher the first week, according to a study published in the January 9, 2012, Circulation.
"Grieving people are not getting enough sleep and are walking around with elevated levels of adrenaline and stress-related hormones," says Dr. Thomas Lee, a cardiologist and a professor at Harvard Medical School. "These tendencies can lead to increased clamping down of one's arteries, a faster heart rate and elevated blood pressure, all of which can increase the chance of a rupture of atherosclerotic plaques, causing a heart attack."
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.