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Fitness

Losing a loved one can really break your heart study finds

Image: Getty, posed by models
If you have lost a loved one and felt like your heart was breaking, you have been right.
A new study conducted by cardiac researchers at Sydney University and the Royal North Shore hospital, have found that the loss of a loved one, like a parent or a partner, can really break your heart.
The study, which was run by Dr Anastasia Mihailidou, from the Sydney Medical School and a team of medical experts, was conducted to find out why people grieving the loss of a loved one feel as though their heart is breaking and experience heightened blood pressure variability.
The team, which was made up of doctors, nurses, scientists and social workers, examined the heart rate and blood pressure of 63 people who had a spouse or parent die in hospital. Their blood pressure was recorded two weeks after the death of a loved one and again at six weeks.
Not surprisingly, Dr Anastasia Mihailidou said all of the participants recorded at the two-week mark showed heightened blood pressure variability. But she said the more telling sign was when they were tested again at the six-month mark.
Although heart rates had returned to normal, blood pressure was still fluctuating.
"The results indicate that someone who is grieving and who is already experiencing blood pressure issues would find these problems amplified during or because of bereavement," Dr Mihailidou said.
"These changes aren't large, but if heightened blood pressure variability goes unnoticed they can cause problems."
The results from the study were then compared to results of a group of 78 participants who saw their sick loved ones return home from hospital. Their heart rates and blood pressure records remained unchanged.
Dr Mihailidou and the team are now working on the second phase of the study which involves treating those who are grieving.
She hopes the further study will encourage those who are busy caring for a sick or dying loved one are aware of their own physical health, as well as their emotional and psychological wellbeing.

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