Losing someone you love may harm your heart

The Straits Times

Never underestimate a heartbreak; experiencing the loss of a spouse or partner does not only affect one's mental health, it also impacts one's physical health.

New research has found that losing someone who is close to you increases the risk for atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeats.

The research, titled Long-Term Risk of Atrial Fibrillation After the Death of a Partner, says that atrial fibrillation is linked to the increased risk of death, stroke and heart failure.

Moreover, the loss also triggers symptoms of mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, guilt, anger and hopelessness.

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The study identified more than 88,600 cases from the national registry in Denmark with hospital diagnoses of atrial fibrillation.

They found that people who had experienced loss, developed a 41 per cent higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation a month after the loss compared to patients who had not lost a loved one.

According to Time, the risk is also high for young people and people whose partner died unexpectedly.

However, researchers are still investigating a solution for this health problem. Meanwhile, a cardiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, Harmony Reynolds, said there may be solutions for changing the way stress influences the body, such as regular exercise, meditation, yoga and deep breathing.

"These activities all have other health benefits anyway, especially exercise, so they are easy to recommend even though I can't be at all sure that they could affect risk," she said.