It’s not a surprise that the dreadful experience of losing one’s spouse shakes people up both mentally and emotionally. According to a new Danish study, it can also affect your physical health.
We’ve all heard about figurative heartbreak, but researchers believe that losing a life partner can literally have an impact on a person’s cardiac health. Extreme grief can lead to an irregular heartbeat, which in turn raises the risk of heart failure.
Few things are more harrowing than losing a life partner, which research suggests increases the risk of irregular heartbeat or arterial fibrillation by 41 percent, compared to people who have not lost a spouse recently.
Researchers also found the risk is even more increased in younger individuals who experience such a loss than in people of the older generation (above 60 of age).
Lead researcher Simon Graff from Aarhus University in Denmark explained that “stress has long been linked to arrhythmia in the heart, and the acute stress of losing your partner in life constitutes one of the biggest impacts of psychological stress one would experience.”
In order to determine if there’s a connection between the death of a partner and irregular heartbeat, the team looked at 88,612 people who recently received diagnose of irregular heartbeat.
These participants were compared with a control group of 886,120 healthy people. Several factors were taken into consideration that could increase the risk of an abnormal heartbeat; these included age, sex, health condition prior to the death of the partner, time since the unfortunate event, or whether they were single.
Researchers found that irregular heartbeat and the death of the loved one were connected regardless of sex, age, and other factors.
Roughly 17,000 of those who were diagnosed with irregular heartbeat had recently lost their partner, while168,940 people in the comparison group were diagnosed with the same disorder.
The team also noted the risk was more evident in people who had lost a partner 8 to 14 days before the medical examination. The risk was also more elevated in people whose partners had died unexpectedly or suddenly compared to those whose partner had passed away after a prolonged illness.
The study concluded that “the severely stressful life event of losing a partner was followed by a transiently increased risk of atrial fibrillation lasting for one year, especially for the least predicted losses.”
Image Source: Everyday Life