Health: Broken Heart

Grief can cause tangible, physical heart problems

I had always asumed that a broken heart was just a metaphor, a cliché of country music and romance novels. So I was as surprised as anyone to learn last week that doctors now consider it a real medical event, one that can kill.

The news comes from a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, in which physicians at Johns Hopkins described a group of 18 mostly older women and one man who developed serious heart problems after experiencing a sudden emotional shock, such as the death of a loved one, or, in the case of one 60-year-old...

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