Dangers of heartbreak? The Widowhood Effect.


You’ve heard people mention of dying from a broken heart, but did you know it can really happen?

And apparently very quickly:

It really is possible to die of a broken heart, scientists have found.

The immense grief of losing a loved one means that many people die within three years of their husband or wife.

Researchers at St Andrews University have identified a ‘widowhood’ effect which they claim does not just affect elderly couples, also occurs amongst those in their 30s and 40s.

They found that 40 per cent of women and 26 per cent of men died within three years of their partner.

The study, which will be published next year in the journal Epidemiology, identified a range of causes including cancer, heart diseases, accidents and suicides.

Professor Paul Boyle, chief executive of the Economic and Social Research Council, who led the study, said: ‘The key message is that it doesn’t matter what causes of death you look at there is still a widowhood effect.

‘This is a clear demonstration, we would argue, that social effects, such as losing a partner, have an impact on life expectancy.

‘We now have robust evidence that the widowhood effect does exist and that people who lose a partner deserve support because it can leave them in a vulnerable situation.’

The researchers studied the records of more than 58,000 married couples dating back to 1991.

For some, the ‘widowhood’ effect seemed to occur very quickly and 40 people died within just ten days of their loved one.

At least 12 died on the exact same day. They concluded that people were most likely to die within six months of their partner, but the widowhood effect could last ten years.

Last December the American actress Brittany Murphy died aged 32 from pneumonia after taking prescription drugs.

Just five months later her husband, British screenwriter Simon Monjack, 40, died from a sudden cardiac arrest.

And in 2005, former prime minister James Callaghan died aged 92, just 11 days after his wife of 67 years Audrey.

But per THIS report, this type of terminal heartbreak is possible with more than just your spouse and tells you medically WHY and where the most dangerous time period for such a fatality exists:

The death of a spouse or child can cause elevated heart rate and other potentially harmful heart rhythm changes among the recently bereaved, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2010. These changes in how the heart functions — which could increase the risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac death — tend to revert back to normal ranges within six months, researchers said. [click the link to read the whole AMAZING article]

Of course the dangerous time frame can be extended, if the one experiencing loss has no support to help them get through such a troubled time. So if you know someone who has experienced such a dibilitating heartbreak, be a friend, extend your hand, offer them your shoulder…

It COULD save their life.

9 comments on “Dangers of heartbreak? The Widowhood Effect.

  1. This is so sad . Sometime pain is so hard and the surviving partner has a hard time to continue . Some people are grounded in each other presence and they cant continue alone but i must say that scare me tad . What it is in love that brings so much sorrow.

    • Our body gets used to the drug our body naturally produces when we experience it, therefore when we are without it? It doesn’t run right and sometimes (for some) shuts down. That a very basic understanding of what I have of how it happens anyway and still just as sad.

      • That’s true . Some people have addictive nature . But cant we produce that drug with other person or some other activities .
        Oh , you would like to see what I just saw on TV . There is advertising for a exhibition named Body Worlds and The Brain . The body is stripped of skin and the brain is exposed . It is done by Gunther von Hagens . Google it . You will love it . I think. ;)

      • I think I’ve seen it. Or variations of it here in Texas. The one I saw was HUGE, massive and not just the body, brain but ALL the parts and people from various ages, sexes and in various stages of health…It was WONDERFUL!

  2. It is time for bye bye post .
    The working week is staring “pouts” and cries”
    I am going to put my tin foil hat down and go to bed .
    You have to admit it would be so strange to sleep with my hat on . I feel little heartbroken too . :) Had fun and laughs and now back to work . “pouts”

    • Night! And yes, the work week is about to be starting for me to and its my LONG one. Ugh. I hate this upcoming week. :(

      Had fun as well and yes it is time to put the hate away until another day – check ya later!

  3. For the last three years ive been in a broken hearted state. Good to read this article. Need things to shift. This is an unbearable state to live in.

    • “Heartbreak” is a state of mind. Only YOU can change it. It is about your resolve and willingness to do so. Hope you come out of the darkness of heartbreak. I am sure it is indeed a horrible state to live in. *hugs*

  4. Pingback: Is it Common for a Spouse to Die So Soon after the Loss of the Other Spouse? - Safe 4 Retirement

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