We’ve all heard the stories of elderly married couples dying close together. It warms our hearts to hear tales of love so strong that one spouse couldn’t go on living without the other. Johnny Cash is one famous example of a man who did not survive long on this earth without his wife June. This site alone is filled with stories of every day couples dying within hours of each other.
But how common is it really? And why does this phenomenon happen most often with elderly spouses?
Believe it or not there is a real scientific reason why couples die within months, days and even hours of each other. It’s called broken heart syndrome and it frequently occurs after a tremendous shock, like the loss of a spouse. Losing a long-term partner can be one of the most traumatic events a human being can experience. And that emotional and mental stress can have a powerful impact on the body.
Broken heart syndrome, or stress-induced cardiomyopathy, is the heart reacting to a sudden increase of stress hormones caused by an emotional ordeal. With symptoms similar to a heart attack, one’s heart actually enlarges and fails to pump efficiently during such an episode.
It is possible to survive broken heart syndrome. Young healthy people in particular can bounce back after an event explaining why you see few young married couples dying close together. It seems to happen most often in elderly couples, their bodies being frailer and less resilient to the shock.
So dying of a broken heart is not just a myth or the stuff of romance novels. And the pain of losing someone near and dear to our hearts can affect us both emotionally and physically.