Online Buzz: Elderly Death by a Broken Heart

Sad senior woman comforted by friends and family.

The term "died of a broken heart" has been used for centuries, and the medical profession has recently provided a scientific understanding of why seniors who have lost their spouse have a higher risk of dying soon thereafter.

Medical researchers describe a condition called "stress-induced cardiomyopathy," in which the loss of a loved one or other intense emotional stress can physically prevent the heart's main chamber from pumping effectively. Grief's psychological stress also can increase blood pressure, heart rate and blood clotting, which raise the risk of a heart attack.

In late 2014, researchers at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom published a study in the journal Immunity and Ageing showing that grief also can cause an imbalance in the stress hormones of older adults, which affect the immune system, leaving seniors vulnerable to dangerous infections.

How can families help bereaved elders protect their health? Read more in the Right at Home blog, where you will always find the latest information about senior wellness and home care.

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Right at Home, Inc. is a national organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for those we serve. We fulfill that mission through a dedicated network of locally owned providers of in home care services.