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.
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.
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.
"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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