Losing someone you love doesn't just cause profound emotional effects. Physical changes are also triggered during the first weeks of bereavement.
A world-first study funded by Heart Research Australia has found that these symptoms increase the risk of heart attack – and even occur in people in their 30s.
Bereavement is associated with increased risk of heart attack, particularly in the early stages, although reasons for the risk have not been well explained.
Initial findings of this world-leading research project have shown temporary changes in stress hormones, immune function, clotting, heart rate and blood pressure, all of which are biological responses associated with increased risk of heart disease.
This study is examining possible preventative strategies to reduce cardiovascular risk in the early weeks of bereavement. In addition to the current ongoing intervention study, we have continued to publish findings from the CARBER 1 study with several papers recently published or currently in press.
In October 2010, the study received special recognition and presentation at the American Heart Association Scientific meeting in Chicago and was featured on ABC radio.
Project title: Evaluation in cardiovascular risk during bereavement (CARBER 2)
Investigators: Professor Geoffrey Tofler, Dr Thomas Buckley, Associate Professor Roger Bartrop, Associate Professor Christopher Ward, Professor Sharon McKinley, Dr Anastasia Susie Mihailidou, Monica Spinaze, Dr Marie-Christie Morel-Kopp, Margaret Bramwell, Jennifer Havyatt, Dianne Roche, VictoriaWhitfield, Angela Stannard and Walter Chen.
Funded since: 2009