Grieving for someone dead can actually lead to death due to broken heart as it weakens the body's immunity, a new study conducted by researchers from University of Birmingham reveals.
The researchers said that the emotional stress caused by the loss of a loved one can weaken immunity by suppressing certain areas of the immune system and thereby increasing the risk fatal infections.
Around 48 healthy adults over 65 years of age took part in the study with the researchers analyzing the immune systems of the participants with half of the participants having suffered bereavement in the last 12 months.
The researchers found that the emotional stress caused by the grief interfered with the working of a type of white blood cell known as neutrophils which provide protection against bacterial infections.
"There are a lot of anecdotes about couples who were married for 40 years when one of them passes away and then the other dies a few days later. It seems there is a biological basis for this. Rather than dying of a broken heart, however, they are dying of a broken immune system. They usually get infections", lead researcher Professor Janet Lord said.