Unless you’re dead inside, you probably know the pain of heartbreak. The late night stalking, the drunken oversharing, the sudden crying fits in supermarket fruit aisles – you know it all, and you know it well. You probably even felt, at one point, that it was actually killing you: tearing apart your body and shattering your soul to pieces.
...No? Too much? Well according to new research, this is a genuine possibility. Heartbreak, or the death of a life partner, could actually trigger a life-threatening irregular heartbeat – leading to a heightened risk of death.
The cheery study, which looked at nearly one million Danish people, revealed that the risk was highest “8-14 days after the loss, after which it gradually declined”. It then remained relatively high for a year after the initial trauma, before going back to normal after that. “One year after the loss, the risk was almost the same as in the non-bereaved population,” it claimed.
Researchers in Denmark reportedly collected data between 1995 and 2014 to search for a link, with the results being published yesterday. It looked at several factors that might increase the risk of the heart issue (known as atrial fibrillation), including age and sex; underlying health conditions; and the health of the partner. “The risk of developing an irregular heartbeat for the first time was 41% higher among those who had been bereaved than it was among those who had not experienced such a loss,” said the study, which was led by Simon Graff of Aarhus University.
This isn’t just something that affects older people, though – in fact, according to the results, those under 60 were more than twice as likely to develop problems after losing their partner. If it happens unexpectedly, that increases the odds by up to 57 per cent.
Good to know, right? Maybe? At least you know never to try out an ‘Ultimate Ghost’, anyway.