Researchers determined a link between the recent death of a partner and irregular heartbeat in the bereaved. The study showed how losing a loved one can increase the risk of developing an irregular heartbeat, scientifically known as atrial fibrillation.
The team identified that people who lost their partner within the previous 30 days are 41 % more likely to develop an irregular heartbeat, compared with those who did not lose anyone recently, as reported by Los Angeles Times.
“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,” commented study lead, Simon Graff. “We wanted to examine that association,” he added.
People under 60 resulted more likely to have heart changes than those above. The risk doubled. An important difference was also determined by how sudden was the partner’s death. The chances were higher for those whose partners experienced a sudden death, compared to other whose death was due to a long illness.
However, the common conception of “the time heals” may not be mistaken after all. After a year, the risks of atrial fibrillation were the same as the people who was not bereaved, which means that chances could significantly change in the course of one year.
In the study, scientists examined Danish medical records from 1995 to 2014. From that large amount of data, 88,612 cases were diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and from those, 17,448 had recently lost a partner at the moment of the illness.
From the records, researchers had access from the bereaved’s address to his or her marital status. With the previous information, the team also had access to the partner’s medical record and determined the cause of the illness, medication and whether or not they were hospitalized.
The team did not determine a cause-effect situation that could lead to the higher risks of heart changes due to the emotional moment, but they did have some clues of what could have caused it.
Hormonal processes could be altered in a tragic event like the loss of the loved one, this can at the same time alter a heartbeat in the survivor, said Graff. As an example, adrenalin in long-term and excessive amounts can disrupt heart rhythm, he added.
In addition, acute mental stress can have a part in the changes too. It can cause an imbalance in the part of the central nervous system that controls both heart rate and the electrical pathways that run through the heart, Graff commented.
Source: Los Angeles Times