Cause of Death: Broken Heart


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            Throughout our lives we always hear people say they have a broken heart. Whether the cause of the broken heart may be a failed relationship, a death of a loved one, or an occurrence of a tragic event; the person dealing with the broken heart has anxiety, depression, or both. The question of this matter lies in whether a person could physically die from a broken heart.

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            Scientists have observed that after an elderly person passes away their spouse may soon the after die as well; but could the cause of death actually be a broken heart? No the heart does not literally break but it undergoes physical changes that may lead to death. Scientists have discovered that after a death of a loved one a rush of hormones that are caused by stress (such as adrenaline) causes the left side of the heart to inflate in size. When this occurs the left side of the heart has trouble pumping blood as the right side of the heart still pumps but with an increased amount of force. The heart malfunctioning in this way has a strong resemblance to a heart attack from an outsider's perspective.  

            The science of a broken hart is not actually a heart attack. The medical term for this occurrence is referred to as "stress-induced cardiomyopathy" (heart.org). The reason why doctors do not diagnose the broken heart as a heart attack is because the physical attributes differ. When dealing with a heart attack a person's arteries clog and when a broken heart occurs there is no sign of the arteries clogging in such a way. Also the two differ within their recovery times. A person who experienced a broken heart can recover within three weeks as opposed to a person who suffers from a heart attack may never recover because of death. Heart attacks have a high fatality rate but broken hearts do not. Only a small portion of the people who have the symptoms of a broken heart may experience death and more often than not these people are elderly.

            Hearing of someone die from a broken heart allows for people to have faith in relationships. The fact that two people can have such a strong relationship that a person could become physically ill from their passing is an amazing sight. Having a broken heart is a sad story to tell, but it gives others hope that they too can experience that strong of a connection. 

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4 Comments

Very interesting post! I have always thought that Joe Paterno died of a broken heart. This article addresses that question.

I love this article, it is adorable. I always wondered why it happened that when one person passed away, their spouse tends to pass away not too long after. It is sad to think about, but it is cute to see that it can be related to loving the other person so much! I did some research and it said that middle aged woman are at greatest risk of this happening to them. Hm, I hope that's not true!
here is the link to the article:
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2013/02/14/yes-you-can-die-from-a-broken-heart/

I would not at all doubt that people have passed as a result of the loves of their life passing away before them. When you fall in love, there is a chemical change in your brain that draws you to that person. Just as you undergo grief, depression may follow after that. Depression also have physical symptoms, that affect diet, mood, overall health, and all of these may contribute to the ultimate demise. People really do not understand love until they experience it for the first time. I fully 100% believe what you are claiming is no myth. Here's a video of what this reminded me of: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaD5iwUHSqM

Your article was fun to read! I have definitely questioned whether it is possible to die from a broken heart. When a person dies not long after their spouse passes, this is called the widowhood effect. Interestingly, 22% of men are prone to this phenomenon, compared to only 17% of women. This article explains the theory of the widowhood effect pretty well.
http://seattletimes.com/html/health/2014154333_widow08.html?syndication=rss

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