You Can Die of a Broken Heart

According to study author Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, of Harvard Medical School, “When a spouse is hospitalized, the partner’s risk of death increases significantly and remains elevated for up to two years.” Having a sick spouse was about one fourth as bad for a partner’s health as having a spouse actually die, and some spousal conditions, such as a hip fracture or psychiatric illnesses, were nearly as bad for partners as was spousal death. The researchers also found that partners were most at risk of dying within 30 days of a spouse’s hospitalization or death and that age and poverty (for women whose husbands were hospitalized) also adversely affected death risk.