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SimpleScience@Heart: Death of a sibling can cause real heart ache

Published: 3:00 pm CDT, February 27, 2013

If your sibling dies, it might be a good idea for you to get a medical check-up – and to stay on top of your health for years to come.

A new study says your risk of dying from a heart attack may increase after an adult sibling dies. Researchers also encourage healthcare providers to monitor bereaved siblings for the warning signs of a heart attack.

The risk of a heart attack death was slightly higher for women who’d lost a sibling than for men. The risk for both genders was much higher if the sibling died from a heart attack than of any other cause. Also, the risk wasn’t immediately after their loss – it was two to six years later.

Researchers say shared genetics or childhood risk factors are likely involved when more than one sibling dies from a heart attack. In other cases, unhealthy behaviors as a response to mental stress contribute to the risk for siblings.

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