Dying of sadness?

The recently published case of a woman almost dying of a heart attack during her sister-in-law’s funeral provided insight into the theory that humans can die of a broken heart.

The recently published case of a woman almost dying of a heart attack during her sister-in-law’s funeral provided insight into the theory that humans can die of a broken heart.

This woman’s father had passed away quite suddenly the week before, and her sister-in-law had collapsed and died upon hearing of his death. At her sister-in-law’s funerals, the woman’s heart had suffered an electrical short-circuit which would have caused her heart to stop, had it not been for a device called a defibrillator, implanted in her chest. A defibrillator is designed to shock the heart into a normal rhythm. The device recorded the exact moment when the heart attack occurred. But it was only a few weeks later that the physicians realized the defibrillator had gone off and questioned the woman as to what she was doing at that precise moment. According to the treating physician, this case demonstrates that people with heart diseases could suffer from cardiac events triggered by emotional stress.

Although psychiatrists have been studying this question for centuries, no viable explanation has ever been put forth. Experts do not generally believe it is actually possible for humans to die of sadness or a broken heart.

The case cited here is unusual because not only did the defibrillator implanted in the woman’s chest save her life, it also recorded the exact moment her heart stopped. Today’s technological advances help save human lives, and thanks to the data they record, they also help physicians better understand how stress can have an impact on the heart.

So, can we really die of a broken heart? Of that, we are still unsure. However, what we must retain from this woman’s experience is that a sick heart is at greater risk of reacting badly in times of great stress than a healthy heart. It is therefore important to learn to manage stress properly with relaxation techniques for example. But prevention is even more primordial in keeping your heart healthy and ticking!

Here are a few tips on reducing your risk of dying of sadness or a broken heart, among other things: eat a healthful diet made up of a variety of unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meats; be physically active as often as possible; do not smoke; drink alcohol in moderation; and visit your physician once a year to get a realistic bill of health and help nip diseases in the bud.

Although life is unlikely to spare you times of great difficulty and sadness, your heart will be in a better position to sustain an emotional blow if it is healthy.

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