Can one die of a broken heart?

Can someone die of a broken heart? I've heard stories of older couples (who've been together for years) and shortly after one passes on, the other does to....a good example would be of Johnny Cash & his wife June...

61 Answers

  • beast
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    yes - although the heart is not literally/physically "broken" the spirit and will to live can be, therefore the individual loses the will to live and the body's organs can start shutting themselves down -

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    this is something really interesting that i have not thought about before, but it is fact that it is impossible to die from a broken heart. in the situation of two lovers passing away together or close to each other, the reason is that there love was so strong that they could not stand to be separated from each other. The death does not occur due to the broken heart but rather the cause of death is fate (for those who believe in it). There are some couples whose love is so strong that they are destined to be together in this life as well as the next. This is what I believe, and I feel that the couples deaths are close in time because they have moved forward on to their next life together. The simple answer is that, scientifically, a person can not pass from a broken heart. a broken heart causes emotional pain and suffering but no physical harm is created for a death to occur. Hope this answers your question!

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    A priori, I would say no, but one would need to define 'broken heart'.

    Clearly a heart does not break, and in fact the example you give is mental rather than respiratory.

    However the shock to the system, in particular the loss of a partner may well result in mental trauma that causes the remaining partner to 'give up'.

    That could well, and I would venture to suggest, not infrequently, does result in death.

    I am sure few of us are unfamiliar with the loss, for whatever reason, of a loved one, and the associated feeling of utter despair.

    This also raises the question as why matters of passion are considered to be 'matters of the heart'.

    Could it be that the sight or sound of of a person of desire raises the heartbeat, giving rise to the expression 'hearthrob' .

    Accepting these considerations perhaps the answer should be revised to yes.

    It's worth thinking about!

  • 1 decade ago

    I think it's possible.

    When I hear of cases of older people dying within days or weeks of each other I often wonder if it is them dying of a broken heart or them just giving up the will to live. When you have been with someone for 50 or more years I can understand life being a very lonely place after they have passed.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Depends on if they starve themselves, or suicide, of course this would be out of depression, but still literally die from a broken heart. I didnt know that June died, hmmm have to ask mom bout that.

    But yea, I have heard stories like that too, and yea I believe people do. Love is strong when it comes from the heart, one is just not much without the other...

  • 1 decade ago

    Yes, although it's not a subject that has prompted much clinical research, much less rat studies of fatal heartbreak.

    A chief medical examiner once wrote to me describing a poignant case of what appeared to be a fatally broken heart. This pathologist had recently performed autopsies on an octagenarian couple who died on the same day. The man, with a long history of heart disease, was found dead out in his farmyard. His wife, dead a shorter time, was found on the front porch, at an angle showing that she would have seen her husband's body. Next to her was the bell she had brought to summon him to the lunch sitting on the table inside. Her autopsy showed no obvious cause of death other than a heart that had stopped.

    What happens in a case like this? We can only speculate, since it's not possible to study this phenomenon in animals, and it's hard to glean much from an autopsy. But there are documented cases of sudden cardiac arrest following powerful emotional distress. What probably happens is that ongoing stress, following a traumatic event or loss, adversely affects the cardiovascular system. Stress does its damage over time by slowly chipping away at the integrity of the blood vessels, causing subtle damage that sets them on the path to atherosclerosis, or "hardening of the arteries."

    During a crisis -- including an emotional crisis -- the sympathetic nervous system is also involved. This system mediates the "fight-or-flight" response by secreting stress hormones such as adrenaline, also known as epinephrine, along with the related norepinephrine. These chemicals stimulate the heart and prepare the body -- either to do battle or run for one's life.

    Under normal circumstances, the levels of those two chemicals are choreographed with wondrous precision. The last thing you'd want to do is to get the sequence of cardiac stimulation out of whack, because disruption of these cardiac stimulators can lead to serious consequences. But such loss of coordination is precisely what happens during immensely strong sympathetic stimulation to the heart, resulting in difficulty pumping blood, especially when the heart muscle is already diseased. This state, known as "fibrillation," can prove fatal.

    So, yes, it's certainly possible to die of a broken heart, but it usually takes a very major break and an already weakened heart.

    When people think of fatal heartbreak, though, other less plausible scenarios often come to mind. If someone is so devastated by a loss that he or she stops eating, for instance, jumps off a building, or, instead of sprinting away from a predator, turns around to tell the beast a tale of woe, that person is not going to fare well. But that's not the kind of fatal heartache we are considering here. Nor is it the case of a guy who gets catastrophic news and, wailing, clutches his chest and keels over dead from sudden cardiac arrest. While there have been such cases following powerful emotional distress, they are extremely rare, more common to the movies than real life.

    Robert M. Sapolsky is professor of biological sciences and neurology at Stanford University and the author of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: An Updated Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping

  • This is such a sad question.

    I would like to think that the answer would be, No. Then, you never know. I am thinking that it may be possible depending on how deep someone's love is for another. I've been through heartbreak before just in breaking up with that person I loved so much, In missing so him so much and felted so bad I wanted to die

  • 1 decade ago

    You have a point, but a broken heart is mostly self pity. If that feeling is out of control, then there are pills for that. If that still does not work psychiatric intervention might. And after that whatever it takes to move on.

  • 1 decade ago

    Yes...I believe so. The heartache of losing someone can cause stress which can lead to health problems. Lets not forget depression. So yes...someone can die of a broken heart.

  • 1 decade ago

    I have know of this happening in my family but I don't think it is death from a broken heart. If you have made your spouse you main reason for living, then what is there to live for? It is good to keep one's own interest in life alive and going which some people fail to do.

  • 1 decade ago

    When the love for some one is so strong for another and that person is lost . The will to live can be lost also. The mind is the strongest organ in the body and can cause the body to shut down because of this loss.

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