Psychological medicine

A broken heart: the health consequences of spouse bereavement

Roger W Bartrop, Tom Buckley



Loss of a spouse or partner can cause heartbreak, in symbolic terms and be expressed in physical symptoms. Recognition of a spouse or partner’s loss and provision of appropriate services can help adaptation and prevent major health problems. Although grief reactions are expected, symptoms suggestive of cardiac disease should be investigated immediately.

Article Extract

The death of a loved one or life partner is recognised as one of life’s greatest stressors requiring significant adjustment, sometimes lasting several weeks to years and, for some patients, leading to severe and chronic psychological distress. Substantial evidence from the past decade reveals increased mortality during the first six months of grief among surviving spouses of both genders, especially in the late middle age and retired age bands.