Study Reveals You Can Actually Die of a Broken Heart and These Real-Life Stories Prove It

Love isn’t for the faint of heart, literally. A recent story brought to light a little-known condition that proves fatal for lovers; Takotsubo syndrome.

Psychiatrists acknowledge the disease’s prevalence, too. Dr. Matthew Lorber, a New York psychiatrist, relayed why people get Takotsubo; “when someone finds out some shocking news, typically terrible news … there’s a massive release of these stress hormones … into the bloodstream, and the heart is then bombarded with these stress hormones.” These real-life stories are proof that “’til death do us part” doesn’t apply to everyone in love.

Debbie Reynolds

Carrie Fisher and mother Debbie Reynolds posing together.

Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds died just a day apart from each other. | HBO

Fans everywhere mourned the loss of their Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher, this past December. They were shocked when only one day later her mother, Debbie Reynolds, passed away as well.

Many took to the internet to attribute Reynolds’ death to a broken heart, and they may not have been wrong. Lorber notes that the shocking news, which ignites the syndrome, could be anything from, “… a loved one dying, which is where the ‘broken heart syndrome’ name comes from,” to getting a divorce or being fired.

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash and June Carter performing on stage.

The famous couple couldn’t live without one another. | Scott Harrison/Stringer/Getty Images

In 2003, country singer Johnny Cash lost his wife and collaborator June Carter Cash, 73, from heart surgery complications. Their love story, albeit complicated, was one for the storybooks. Johnny asked June to marry him during a live performance in London, Ontario and the two wed only weeks later.

While Johnny was hospitalized for diabetes treatment and reportedly died of complications from the disease, it’s suspected that his broken heart worsened his health and his symptoms.

This inseparable California couple

Don and Maxine Simpson smiling in a photograph.

Don and Maxine Simpson led a happy marriage. | YouTube

Don and Maxine Simpson, 90 and 87 respectively, died four hours apart in August of 2016. The couple died in adjoining hospital beds after hours of intermittently holding hands.

“All Don wanted was to be with his beautiful wife. He adored my grandmother, loved her to the end of the earth,” Melissa Sloan, their granddaughter, told KERO-TV.

Marcus Ringrose

Mary Tamm sitting on a block.

Mary Tamm’s partner died shortly after she did. | Michael Webb

Doctor Who actress Mary Tamm passed away in 2012 after an 18-month battle with cancer. Her husband, Marcus Ringrose, died only 12 days later. Ringrose reportedly collapsed while sending an email, just hours after delivering a eulogy at his wife’s funeral.

The “fit and well” 59-year-old’s heart just stopped beating; Deputy Coroner Dr. Shirley Radcliffe called Ringrose’s condition a recognized situation that can be triggered by stressful events. Tamm’s agent spoke of Ringrose after his death, saying, “He adored her. If you can die of a broken heart, then that’s what he died of – his heart just gave out.”

This couple passed away on their anniversary

Clifford and Marjorie Hartland posing together in front of a building.

It was almost as if they wanted to be together forever. | YouTube

According to The Telegraph,  Clifford and Marjorie Hartland passed away on what would have been the couple’s 76th wedding anniversary. Clifford, a World War II veteran, was 101 when he died on July 29. Marjorie, 97, passed away only 14 hours later.

Their daughter, Christine Pearson, called theirs, “the perfect love story,” and told stories of how the two fell in love “at first sight” and persevered through the trials and tribulations of the war. While the paramedics told their daughter that Marjorie died of a heart attack, they also said it was, “literally of a broken heart.”

NFL quarterback Doug Flutie’s parents

Former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie’s parents died less than an hour apart. Dick and Joan Flutie reportedly both died of heart attacks, but while Dick had been ill for some time, Joan’s death was sudden and unexpected.

“My dad had been ill and died of a heart attack in the hospital and my mom, less than an hour later had a sudden heart attack and passed away. They say you can die of a broken heart and I believe it,” Flutie said.

Studies reveal Takotsubo syndrome’s prevalence

White coffins on a brown casket.

A very real and heart breaking phenomenon. | iStock.com

The American Medical Association published a study detailing why broken heart syndrome kills, and who it’s most likely to affect.

“The period immediately after bereavement has been reported as a time of increased risk of cardiovascular events,” the study finds. Ninety percent of the cases are reportedly seen in women. The syndrome is most commonly experienced by people with a history of neurologic problems, such as seizures, and by people with a history of mental health problems.

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