SPHPC 20th Anniversary Webinar Series: How Do You Mend a Broken Heart?
The Link between Bereavement and Heart Attack Risk, Psychological, Behavioural and Physiological Contributors
Professor Tom Buckley, The University of Sydney
Dr Anastasia Mihailidou, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney
Dr Eric Lee, JC School of Public Health and Primary Care, CUHK
Loss of a loved one or family member impacts not only the psychological health but also the physical health of bereaved family members. Research conducted by a multi-disciplinary team led by Professor Tom Buckley and including Dr Anastasia Mihailidou provides insight into why people grieving the loss of a loved one, such as a spouse or a parent are at increased risk of a heart disease.
While it is recognised that the bereaved family members experience anxiety, depression and anger symptoms, we have also found physiological changes in the first few weeks after their loss. There is also increases in blood pressure and heart rate, together with immune and blood clotting changes that could contribute towards a heart attack. While several measures had improved by six months, ambulatory blood pressure was still at a higher level than seen in the non-bereaved comparison group.