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SPHPC 20th Anniversary Webinar Series: How Do You Mend a Broken Heart?

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

The Link between Bereavement and Heart Attack Risk, Psychological, Behavioural and Physiological Contributors

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.


15 December 2021 (Wednesday)


12:30 pm – 1:30 pm (HK Time, GMT+8)


Zoom Live Webinar


Professor Tom Buckley

The University of Sydney

Dr Anastasia Mihailidou

Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney


Dr Eric Lee

Clinical Assistant Professor, JC School of Public Health and Primary Care, CUHK

The webinar is approved for CME Accreditation (non-specialist) and pending for specialist CME Accreditation.

About the Speakers:

Associate Professor Tom Buckley RN, BSc(hons), PhD

Tom is a Research Education Academic Director in the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney and Research Fellow in the Department of Cardiology at Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney. A health science and nursing graduate, he has over 30 years’ experience in intensive and coronary care and established an international research profile investigating the relationship between emotional and physical stress with onset of cardiovascular (CV) risk. In his doctoral studies, collaborating with a team at Royal North Shore Hospital and the Kolling Institute of Medical Research, he investigated the psychological, physiological, and behavioural changes associated with spousal and parental bereavement, work that has been and incorporated into the Heart Foundation’s position statement on psychological risk factors for CV disease. Tom has co-led studies demonstrating an association between heavy physical exertion, acute anxiety and anger, respiratory infection, heavy meals, pollution, and heavy meals with transient increased risk of MI. More recently, he has led an evaluation of the impact of unexpected hospitalisation on family members cardiovascular risk factors, confirming hospitalisation as potential trigger of cardiovascular events due to psychological and physiological disruptions observed.

Dr Anastasia Mihailidou FAHA FCSANZ

Anastasia runs the Diagnostic Service for 24-Hour Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring (ABPM) at Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney. She also engages in both biomedical and clinical research as Head of the Cardiovascular & Hormonal Research Laboratory, Kolling Institute and Honorary Senior Lecturer, Macquarie University. Her discovery research focus is mineralocorticoid receptor regulation in the heart, sex differences in heart disease and blood pressure regulation. Anastasia was part of the Executive Committee for initiating a national multicentre study for deriving reference ambulatory blood pressure thresholds for the diagnosis and management of hypertension that accounts for age and sex as well as revising the Australian Guidelines for ABPM. Her most recent appointment is The Lancet as one of the Commissioners for their Commission on Cardiovascular Disease in Women. Anastasia is currently on the HBPRCA Executive Member responsible for Education and Vice-Chair of the International Society of Hypertension (ISH) Communications Committee.

About the moderator:

Dr Eric Lee MBBS(HKU), HKCFP, FRACGP, MSc Mental Health (CUHK), DPD(Cardiff), Dip Med (CUHK)

Dr Lee practiced in family medicine in Hong Kong for more than 10 years and obtained his specialist qualification in Hong Kong since 2016. He had a master degree in mental health from CUHK in year 2014 and another Master degree in Evidence-Based Health Care from the University of Oxford in year 2020.

Dr Lee started to work as a clinical assistant professor since 2016 at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. His research interest included hypertension, mindfulness, burnout in medical professional and medical systems.

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