Bereavement is recognised as a risk factor for death and is associated with cardiovascular events, researchers said.
Researchers from St George’s University of London, compared the rate of myocardial infarction or stroke in 30,447 older patients, ages 60 to 89, whose partner died to that of 83,588 individuals whose partners were still alive during the same period.
Fifty patients (0.16 per cent) experienced MI or stroke within 30 days of their partner’s death compared with 67 (0.08 per cent) of controls, researchers found. The increased risk of MI or stroke in bereaved men and women lessened after 30 days, researchers said.
“We have described a marked increase in cardiovascular risk in the month after spousal bereavement, which seems likely to be the result of adverse physiological responses associated with acute grief,” researchers said.
“A better understanding of psychosocial factors associated with acute cardiovascular events may provide opportunities for prevention and improved clinical care,” they said. The study is published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.