“Died of a Broken Heart”: Grieving Increases Your Death Risk

“Died of a Broken Heart”: Grieving Increases Your Death Risk

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“They died of a broken heart” has often been said in literature – almost as a throwaway line, but research from the University of Birmingham shows that grieving can actually lead to death - as it weakens the body’s immunity.

The researchers studied the immune systems of just under 50 adults (over 65) – half  of whom had suffered a bereavement in the previous year.

They discovered that – in those who had suffered a recent bereavement – the neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) which help to protect us against bacterial infections, – had been ‘interfered with’ – leading to decreased protection against fatal infections.

Lead researcher Professor Janet Lord said;

“There are a lot of anecdotes about couples who were married for 40 years when one of them passes away and then the other dies a few days later. It seems there is a biological basis for this. Rather than dying of a broken heart, however, they are dying of a broken immune system. They usually get infections”.

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