The loss of a loved one can literally break your heart. Researchers found the risk of a heart attack jumped to 21 times higher than normal in the day following the death of a close relative or friend. That’s according to a study in the journal Circulation.
And that spike occurred even in people at low risk for heart attack. Men have a higher risk of heart attack when they lose a spouse – and the most dangerous time is in the first 24 hours afterward. But even a week after the death of someone close, the risk is still elevated to six times of what’s normal.
So if you see someone dealing with grief, you need to also be able to recognize if they’re having symptoms of a heart attack. And it’s easy to misinterpret heart attack symptoms as signs of grief – things like tightness in the chest, stomach pain, light-headedness, nausea and shortness of breath. But someone who’s grieving and experiencing these symptoms requires medical attention.
So how does grief link to a heart attack? Because when people are dealing with depression, anger and anxiety, that can lead to increases in heart rate and blood pressure. It can also make the blood more sticky, which can lead to a clot and that can lead to a blockage and then a heart attack.