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HEALTH

Broken heart can cause headaches, strokes and even cancer

19 March, 21:12
Broken heart can cause headaches, strokes and even cancer

- You really can die of a broken heart, scientists have announced. New research showed the risk of having heart failure or a stroke doubles in the first month after losing a loved one, Daily Mail reported.

The findings add to growing evidence that bereavement doesn’t just increase the risk of depression and anxiety, but can weaken the body’s defences against all types of disease — from the common cold to cancer.

Doctors even call it broken heart syndrome, not least because you are six times more likely to die in the year after losing a loved one than at any other time.

The phenomenon explains why many widows and widowers die within a few months of their spouses.

The research is borne out of the deaths of many famous people following the loss of their partners: former Prime Minister James Callaghan died of pneumonia aged 92 in 2005, just 11 days after his wife of 67 years, Audrey.

In 2003, singer Johnny Cash, died at 71 — ostensibly of complications related to diabetes — just four months after wife June.

There are many complex causes of broken heart syndrome, but the production of cortisol — a chemical released by the adrenal gland on top of the kidneys as part of our ‘fight or flight’ response to danger — is believed to be one of the biggest sources of problems.

Then, the hormone can build to harmful levels in the blood, affecting many parts of our bodies.

HAIR LOSS

Within weeks of losing a loved one, some women lose hair at an alarming rate.

Hair grows in a natural cycle. A strand typically grows from the scalp for three years before entering a ‘dormant’ state for three months. It then falls out to make way for a new strand.

High levels of cortisol can cause 30 per cent or more of your hair to become dormant and, three months later, drop out, causing bald patches.

The good news is this condition, called telogen effluvium, usually cures itself. Within six months, hair should be growing normally.

COLDS AND FLU

Grief weakens the immune system, leaving us vulnerable to colds, flu, sore throats and tummy upsets. Again, the culprit is cortisol, which surges through our bodies when we are stressed to prepare us for a quick getaway from danger.

In order to give muscles and brain more energy, it diverts the body’s resources away from our immune systems. Over weeks and months, that can make us far more likely to fall ill.

Because cortisol suppresses the immune system, our bodies don’t respond properly to vaccinations.

HEADACHES

Bereavement can trigger tension headaches.

The causes are not properly understood, but they are often linked to tight shoulder and neck muscles.

ASTHMA

Any major stressful event, such as a bereavement, can trigger an asthma attack in people with the condition.

Danish scientists who led the study believe the stress of bereavement may alter the immune system, increasing the risk of an asthma attack.

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

Not surprisingly, blood pressure usually soars in the first weeks after losing a loved one.

That’s because stress hormones released in your bloodstream cause the heart to beat faster and blood vessels to narrow.

INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE

Around 100,000 Britons suffer from ulcerative colitis, a long-term inflammation of the large intestine; symptoms include diarrhoea, passing blood and stomach cramps.

Its cause is unknown and there’s no cure. But the stress caused by bereavement can trigger relapses, or make symptoms worse.

CANCER

The immune system doesn’t just fight off bugs — it’s also crucial in defending against cancer.

A study of more than 6,000 Israeli families in 2000 suggested the incidence of cancer was higher in parents who lost an adult son in the Yom Kippur war.

However, Cancer Research UK says plenty of studies have shown the link is small or non-existent.

MUSCLE PAIN AND BONE FRACTURES

Professor Janet Lord, an expert in immunity and bereavement at the University of Birmingham, says: ‘Bereavement can be accompanied by depression, and depressed people are less likely to be getting out, which can contribute to loss of muscles and bone.’

HEART DISEASE AND STROKE

The risks of a heart attack are 21 times higher in the 24 hours following the death of a spouse, according to a Harvard University study.

Sleep and appetite are disrupted, and people forget to take their regular medication — all increasing the dangers.

DIABETES

The loss of a loved one may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, the version of the disease that usually appears in middle age.

A Danish study in 2005 showed mothers who had lost a child in the previous 18 years were 41 per cent more likely to end up being treated in hospital for diabetes than mothers who had not.

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source: Шило

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