“Losing a loved one really can break your heart,” reported the Daily Mail. Several other news sources also reported that a study suggests people are 21 times more likely to have a heart attack within a day of being bereaved. In the days that follow, the risk drops to approximately six times higher than normal, and then declines during the following month.
During the study, researchers interviewed 1,985 people who had recently had a heart attack and asked them about whether they had been bereaved in the period immediately before their heart attack. They also asked about bereavement one to six months before their heart attack, which they used to compare the risk of having a heart attack during a period when they had not experienced a loss. They found that compared to this earlier period, the risk of having a heart attack increased 21-fold in the 24 hours after a bereavement.