Can a Broken Heart Lead to Atrial Fibrillation? Yes!
by Patti J. Ryan, October 2016
Called ‘Broken Heart Syndrome’, a new study finds that the death of a partner is linked to a heightened risk of developing atrial fibrillation. The risk seems to be greatest among the under 60s and when the loss of the partner was least expected.
The researchers looked at a national registry in Denmark of 88,612 people who were diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and 886,120 healthy people matched for age and sex, and between 1995 and 2014. Other factors that might influence atrial fibrillation risk were included as well.
They found that people who had lost a partner were 41% more likely to develop atrial fibrillation in the first month after losing their partner. The risk seemed to be greatest 8 to 14 days following a death and gradually subsided during the following year.
More Evidence of Mind-Heart Link
Experts suspect acute stress may directly disrupt normal heart rhythms and prompt the production of chemicals involved in inflammation.
This study adds evidence to the growing knowledge that the mind-heart link is a powerful association.
What can be done about this risk? The answer requires more research but may focus on the way the body deals with stress.
Recommended Reading: The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness, by Jerome E. Groopman.
Written by an oncologist and citing actual patient cases (mostly cancer), Dr. Groopman explores the role of hope in fighting disease and healing. Top scientists are interviewed who study the biological link between emotion and biological responses; the most relevant studies are reviewed.
The author shows how hope, belief and expectations can alter the course of our lives, and even of our physical body. HOPE works! (For more read my review on Amazon.com.)
Dr. Groopman Interview: Listen to an audio interview with The Anatomy of Hope author, Dr. Groopman on NPR’s Fresh Air program (recorded Sept. 2004; 20 min.)