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Is it possible to die from a broken heart?

Dr. Elizabeth Yuko is the Health Editor at SheKnows. She is a bioethicist and writer specializing in sexual and reproductive health and the intersection of bioethics and popular culture. She is an adjunct professor of ethics at Fordham ...

Debbie Reynolds' passing just one day after daughter Carrie Fisher raises the question of dying of a broken heart

The news of Debbie Reynolds dying one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher has a lot of people wondering whether you can actually die from a broken heart.

According to a 2014 study out of the University of St. George’s in London, yes, you can. In fact, they found that the chances of having a stroke or heart attack doubles in the 30-day period after the death of a partner or loved one.

More: Debbie Reynolds' stroke highlights symptom differences in women

Grief can also result in declining health because of the physical stress or people forgetting to take medication — or care of themselves in general — during the bereavement process.

"We often use the term a 'broken heart' to signify the pain of losing a loved one and our study shows that bereavement can have a direct effect on the health of the heart," Dr. Sunil Shah, senior lecturer in public health at St. George's University of London and a co-author of the report, said.

More: Debbie Reynolds dead at 84 following stroke

Grief expert David Kessler, who worked with Fisher on a number of occasions, told USA Today that Fisher and Reynolds "were so close. I would not be surprised if part of this was broken heart syndrome."

Kessler also offered advice for the rest of us who are trying to process the parade of high-profile deaths in 2016, telling USA Today that people shouldn’t feel unnerved that they are distressed over the loss of someone they never met.

More: What you need to know about women & heart attacks after Carrie Fisher's death

"Your grief is a reflection of a connection that has been lost... not necessarily someone you met. If your heart feels connected, it will grieve," he said.

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