You can literally have a heart attack from a broken heart. Perhaps it’s that major stressors seem more unbearable without adequate support systems in place. This increase in stress catcholamines may increase heart rate and inflammation. According to a study in Circulation:
Acute psychological stress is associated with an abrupt increase in the risk of cardiovascular events. Intense grief in the days after the death of a significant person may trigger the onset of acute myocardial infarction (MI), but this relationship has not been systematically studied.
A recent article by Dr. Mercola offered some more insight on the mechanism behind this grief and heart health:
It's well known that psychological stress exacts a great physical toll on your health, but new research reveals just how extreme that toll can be.
In comparing how grief affects your heart disease risk within a period of time, researchers found that losing a significant person in your life raises your risk of having a heart attack the next day by 21 times, and in the following week by 6 times. The risk of heart attacks began to decline after about a month had passed, perhaps as levels of stress hormones begin to level out.
The study did not get into the causes of the abrupt increase in risk of cardiovascular events like heart attack, but it's likely related to the flood of stress hormones your body is exposed to following extreme stress.
For instance, adrenaline increases your blood pressure and your heart rate, and it's been suggested it may lead to narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to your heart, or even bind directly to heart cells allowing large amounts of calcium to enter and render the cells temporarily unable to function properly.
Interestingly, while your risk of heart attack increases following severe stress, so does your risk of what's known as stress cardiomyopathy -- or "broken heart syndrome" -- which is basically a "temporary" heart attack that occurs due to stress.
Therefore, think of ways to handle stress and isolation as a heart healthy tip that goes beyond a statin deficiency. In fact, the American Heart Association recently reported how Yoga is connected to heart health by decreasing the stress response.
More Answers from Sarah LoBisco