Can You Die From a Broken Heart?

Updated May 16, 2018 This content is archived.

An article about questions over whether it was a broken heart that caused the hospitalization of former President George H.W. Bush just a day after the funeral of his wife, Barbara, interviews Anne B. Curtis, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Charles and Mary Bauer Professor and chair of medicine. The sudden loss of a spouse, child or parent “releases an outpouring from the sympathetic nervous system, the fight-or-flight response, which is what seems to damage the heart in broken-heart syndrome,” she said. “The heart rate goes up sharply, blood pressure goes up. This is why people can also have a stroke in situations like this.”