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Health: Broken Heart, Happy Heart: My Top 5 Tips for a Happy Heart

We recently saw how powerfully the sadness of a broken heart can impact a person when Debbie Reynolds died one day after her beloved daughter, Carrie Fisher. Studies have shown that the loss of a loved one raises your own risk of sudden death, known as the “bereavement effect.

Broken heart syndrome (stress cardiomyopathy) is a real medical condition, triggered by acute, major stress or shock, such as the death of a loved one. In fact the emotional stress of losing of a loved one through divorce, death or any other circumstance can have as powerful of an impact as full-blown depression. Heartbreak can have a devastating impact on your emotional health and the loss of a vital connection can lead to the literal breakdown of the functions of the heart.

Symptoms of broken heart syndrome are very similar to those of a heart attack, including chest pain and shortness of breath. However, there's no actual damage to the heart to trigger it. Extreme shock or stress may also trigger a hemorrhagic stroke by causing a dramatic rise or change in blood pressure.

According to a study in 2012, losing a significant person in your life raises your risk of having a heart attack the next day by 21 times, and in the following week by six times. The risk of heart attacks began to decline after about a month, as levels of stress hormones begin to decrease.

There are numerous studies linking heart and mental health.  Harvard researchers reviewed more than 200 studies and concluded that people who are more optimistic and satisfied with life have a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.  Pessimism was linked to a 19% higher risk of dying over a 30-year period in another study.

We can’t totally eliminate all the negative situations and happenings in life, but we do have some control over what we focus on. Focusing on intentionally creating positive experiences in your daily life has been found to lead to more satisfaction in general and greater health. Happiness researchers found we need 3 positive experiences for every one negative one in order to flourish emotionally.

So my top 5 tips to protect your emotional and physical health are: (Continue here)

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Comment by Ann Musico on February 22, 2017 at 9:23am

Marcy I like your doctor!! Thanks you for your kind words and continued support. I appreciate you.

Comment by Marcy Travis on February 22, 2017 at 8:26am

Ann, What a revealing article. My Doctor stresses that our mindset affects our physical health, not the other way around as we've been taught. This article reinforces that opinion. Wow! I love your 5 practical tips... something everyone of us can implement. Thanks for this great post - you always keep us looking up!

Comment by Ann Musico on February 21, 2017 at 8:26am

Thank you Debbie. It was such a clear and dramatic example of this.

Comment by Debbie W. Wilson on February 21, 2017 at 7:38am

Ann, I hadn't heard about Debbie Reynolds death. I have heard of people dying right after losing a loved one. Great tips for living everyday!

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