Sun, 25 Mar 2012 07:41:40 GMT

A broken heart ''can kill you''



London, Mar 25 (PTI) A broken heart can kill you, says a new study which has found that grief makes people vulnerable to infections from bacteria.

Researchers claim that the emotional stress of losing a loved one can lead to parts of the body''s immune system being suppressed, thus in turn weakening one''s ability to fight off infections, ''The Sunday Telegraph'' reported.

In fact, the researchers from Birmingham University have found that increased stress levels and depression brought on by grief can interfere with the function of a type of white blood cell known as neutrophils, which are responsible for fighting bacterial infections like pneumonia.

The impact becomes more profound in older adults as, with age, they lose the ability to produce a hormone that can counteract this dampening affect, meaning even previously healthy elderly people can fall victim to disease following a bereavement, says the study.

Professor Janet Lord, who led the research, said: "There are a lot of anecdotes about couples who were married for 40 years when one of them passes away and then the other dies a few days later. It seems there is a biological basis for this.

"Rather than dying of a broken heart, however, they are dying of a broken immune system. They usually get infections." (MORE) PTI MOT

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