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Loss of loved one can lead to death: study

Men are more likely to die after the loss of their wife than women who lose their hubbies, says study.

health and fitness Updated: Dec 07, 2007 20:54 IST

Attention couples! The demise of your loved one can lead to your own death, especially among men, says a new study. The review of recent research on bereavement found that the psychological distress it causes to spouses can greatly increase their chances of dying soon afterwards and men are more affected than women in such cases.

The report, published in the latest edition of The Lancet medical journal, cites a study that found men are 21 per cent more likely to die after the loss of their wife, while widows have a 17 per cent increased risk.

The bereaved are also more likely to have a range of medical problems and suffer from mental illness including depression, despair, loss of appetite and fatigue. For widowers in particular, the deterioration in health is usually associated with increased alcohol consumption and stress associated with losing their sole confidante, who would have also overseen their well-being.

"The patterns are quite consistent, enabling the conclusion that the mortality of bereavement is attributable in large part to broken heart, the psychological distress due to the loss," the report said.

"Excess mortality in widowed populations is highest in the early months, and decreases with increasing duration of bereavement. Individuals who have been bereaved for a short time are at greater risk of mortality than those bereaved for longer, although raised risk might persist," it claimed.