Heartbroken – Emotions of the Heart: Experiencing loss can be hard on your head and your heart

Paris, Tennessee: Anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one knows the overwhelming feelings of loneliness, grief, depression and anger. It can feel like your heart has literally broken. While hearts do not break from loss, they can be damaged from the results of a loss. If you, or someone you know, has experienced a loss, read on to learn how to avoid a broken heart.

A new study of nearly 2,000 heart attack survivors found that {heart}attacks were far more likely to happen soon after the death of a family member or close friend than at other times. Roughly 14% of the study participants — who were interviewed by researchers within days of their attack — had lost someone close to them in the previous six months Researchers determined that the risk of having a heart attack is 21 times higher in the 24 hours following a death than it is one to six months later. The risk of damage resulting from “heart break” is greatest for those with preexisting cardiovascular risk factors like smoking, high blood pressure, or unhealthy weight and cholesterol levels.

“This suggests that if you add grief to traditional risk factors for coronary artery disease, whether it’s smoking, hypertension, or family history, the grief may potentially put you over the edge,” says Eugene Storozynsky, M.D., a cardiologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York.

Emotions of the Hear –  Grief also makes your blood more likely to clot as high stress levels tend to increase the levels of hormones known as catecholamines which cause platelets to stick to each other forming plaque. The plaque may break free as a clot and move through the vessels to the heart, brain, or extremities, which can result in a stroke.

Healthy Steps – While healing a broken heart always takes time, the first step toward protecting heart health is to recognize the stress of loss and begin (or return to) heart-healthy behaviors:

  • Be sure to get enough sleep – establish calming night-time routines
  • Eat properly – focus on making healthy choices
  • Remember medications and stay on schedule – get early refills if you have to travel
  • Keep moving – stay on an exercise or walking regimen – or start one – the peace of a daily walk will pay emotional as well as physical dividends
  • Talk to friends and family – talking helps people come to terms with loss and allows caring family and friends the chance to help and become part of the healing

Coming to terms with loss, dealing with grief, and mending a broken heart is hard work – but it’s worth the effort. Celebrate the life lost by living a life of purpose and someday be ready to help heal someone else’s broken heart.

And, if your depression worsens, HCMC Lake Haven Behavioral Health is here to help you with 24 hour referral services to our adult and geriatric care unit.  For more information on our services, call us at 731-644-8420.

About Henry County Medical Center

Located in Paris, TN, Henry County Medical Center is a progressive, integrated healthcare organization committed to serving the healthcare needs of Henry County and the adjoining region. Including a 142-bed hospital and other facilities, the medical center provides a variety of outpatient services, as well as inpatient care. Additionally, HCMC has 8 medical clinics serving our community under its umbrella. Henry County Medical Center is a county-owned and operated nonprofit institution. For more information: www.hcmc-tn.org.