A new study confirms that losing a loved one increases the risk of a heart attack:
[The study] found that a person’s heart attack risk is 21 times higher than normal the day after a loved one dies. Over time the risk of an attack declines, but it remains elevated within that first month. In the first week after a loved one’s death, for example, the risk was six times higher than normal, said Elizabeth Mostofsky, the lead author of the paper and a postdoctoral research fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “If a bereaved person is having symptoms like chest pain, they shouldn’t simply say, ‘Oh, I’m dealing with the stress right now’ and ignore it,” she said. Other studies have uncovered greater heart and mortality risks in the weeks and months after the loss of a spouse, a child or another loved one, but the new study is the first systematic look at the immediate effect.