In a nine-year study of elderly couples across the U.S., researchers found that the death of a spouse substantially increased the likelihood of death in the surviving half of the pair.
Called the widowhood effect, social scientists conclude that relationships directly affect a person’s physical health and may be the result of an intense physical response to grief.
The researchers collected data from 373,189 elderly married couples, and examined what happened after one of the spouses died.
‘The death of a spouse, for whatever reason, is a significant threat to health and poses a substantial risk of death by whatever cause,’ the 2008 research says.
This condition, called takotsubo cardiomyopathy and is commonly known as ‘broken heart syndrome.’
The condition follows a traumatic emotional loss, such as death of a spouse, parent, or child and it primarily affects women.
Shock may be a significant contributor to broken heart syndrome, Christakis of Harvard and Felix Elwart of the University of Wisconsin, the two researchers for the study found out.