How do you mend a broken heart?

November 28, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- A study involving University of Sydney cardiac researchers has shown the loss of a loved one can really break your heart.

Dr Anastasia Susie Mihailidou, from the Sydney Medical School says when we lose someone we love it may feel as if our heart is breaking.

Dr Milhailidou, a clinical senior lecturer at Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH), is part of a multi-disciplinary team led by Professor Geoff Tofler, Professor of Medicine and Dr Tom Buckley, Sydney Nursing School, based on the RNSH campus. The team is involved in a study providing insight into why people grieving the loss of a loved one, such as a spouse or a parent, experience a heightened variability. Increased blood pressure variability has been shown to be predictive for stroke and other .

The team - made up of doctors, nurses, scientists and social workers from RNSH, the University of Sydney, University of Technology, Sydney and the Kolling Institute - examined the and blood pressure of 63 people who had a spouse or parent die in hospital.

Their blood pressure and heart rate were recorded two weeks after the death and then again at six months.

Dr Anastasia Mihailidou said all of the participants recorded at the two-week mark showed heightened blood pressure variability.

She said the most telling sign was at the six-month mark. Heart rates had returned to normal but blood pressure was still fluctuating.

These results were compared to a group of 78 participants who saw their sick loved ones return home from hospital. Their heart rates and blood pressure records remained unchanged.

"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 ," Dr Mihailidou said.

"These changes aren't large, but if heightened blood pressure variability goes unnoticed they can cause problems," she said.

The team is now embarking on a second phase of the study. This will involve treating those who are grieving.

Dr Mihailidou hopes this research will encourage people who are busy caring for those who are sick or dying to be aware of their own physical health, as well as their emotional and psychological wellbeing.

The current results of the study were be presented at the recent American Association Annual Scientific Meeting held in Florida, USA.

Explore further: Take your blood pressure meds before bed

Related Stories

Take your blood pressure meds before bed

October 24, 2011
It's better to take blood pressure-lowering medications before bed rather than first thing in the morning, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology (JASN). The ...

Simple surgical procedure may help prevent heart damage in children

May 16, 2011
Removing enlarged tonsils and adenoids may help prevent high blood pressure and heart damage in children who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to a study conducted at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical ...

Recommended for you

Newly deciphered vitamin D regulatory pathway opens doors to clinical research

August 21, 2017
Biochemists at the University of Wisconsin–Madison have deciphered the molecular mechanisms that underpin how the synthesis of the active form of vitamin D is regulated in the kidney, summing up decades of research in this ...

Clay-based antimicrobial packaging keeps food fresh

August 21, 2017
Sometimes it seems as if fresh fruits, vegetables and meats go bad in the blink of an eye. Consumers are left feeling frustrated, often turning to less expensive processed foods that last longer but are less nutritious. Now ...

Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times

August 18, 2017
Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early.

Doctors exploring how to prescribe income security

August 18, 2017
Physicians at St. Michael's Hospital are studying how full-time income support workers hired by health-care clinics can help vulnerable patients or those living in poverty improve their finances and their health.

Schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try tobacco

August 17, 2017
Vaping - or the use of e-cigarettes - is widely accepted as a safer option for people who are already smoking.

Federal snack program does not yield expected impacts, researchers find

August 17, 2017
A well-intentioned government regulation designed to offer healthier options in school vending machines has failed to instill better snacking habits in a sample of schools in Appalachian Virginia, according to a study by ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.