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A broken heart can lead to real heart problems

Sunday - 2/10/2013, 2:41pm  ET

Paula Wolfson, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - We've all heard the stories. A spouse dies suddenly and the other passes a short time later. Could the cause have been a broken heart?

Maybe, according to researchers at Harvard Medical school. Their study looking at the phenomena called "broken heart syndrome" shows that the risk of a heart attack soars after the death of a loved one.

The study shows the chance of a heart attack is 21 times higher than normal immediately after the loss, 6 times high a week later, and still elevated after a month.

Those most likely to have a grief-related heart attack are people who are already have heart disease or associated risk factors.

The theory is all that deep stress causes increases in heart rate and blood pressure, that can trigger a heart attack.

Their findings were published in the journal Circulation.

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