Grief can literally break your heart

Sydney : The loss of a loved one can really break your heart, scientists have warned.

Anastasia Susie Mihailidou, from the University of Sydney Medical School, says when we lose someone we love, it may feel as if our heart is breaking.

Milhailidou, senior clinical lecturer is part of a team led by Geoff Tofler, professor of medicine and Tom Buckley, Sydney Nursing School, based at the Royal North Shore Hospital campus.

The team is providing insight into why people grieving the loss of a loved one, such as a spouse or a parent, experience a heightened blood pressure (BP) variability, tied to stroke and other cardiovascular complications.

The team examined the heart rate and BP of 63 people whose spouse or parent died in hospital. Their BP and heart rate were recorded two weeks after the death and then again at six months, according to a Sydney statement.

Anastasia Mihailidou said all of the participants recorded at the two-week mark showed
heightened BP variability. She said the most telling sign was at the six-month mark. Heart rates had returned to normal but blood pressure was still fluctuating.

These results were compared to a group of 78 participants who saw their sick loved ones return home from hospital. Their heart rates and BP remained unchanged.

“The results indicate that someone who is grieving and who is already experiencing blood
pressure issues would find these problems amplified during or because of bereavement,”
Mihailidou said.

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