Divorce can be an immensely stressful time, and being told as much comes as a surprise to no one. What people may be interested in finding out, however, is that periods of massive stress (as contentious divorces can be known to cause) can literally break your heart.
The disease is called Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, and in laymen’s terms, it is a weakening in the muscular portion of the heart caused by a sudden period of emotional stress. It can cause anything from mild chest pains all the way to ventricular rupture and acute heart failure. In such severe cases, there are almost always other mitigating factors as well, but either way, divorce-related stress is nothing to be casual about.
Studies have been done specifically on individuals that went through divorce, and the results were disheartening: Women aged 45-65 who were divorced at the time had a 36% higher risk of heart attack, and even women who got re-married had a 35% higher risk. Oddly, men were not quite so affected, with the only major increase coming for men who had been divorced twice (30% increase in risk).
This study suggests that the stresses of a contentious divorce can contribute to a life-altering condition, but the good news is that divorce itself is not suspected of being the primary cause of the increased risk. Much more likely the culprit is that during stressful times, it is extremely common for individuals to make a lot of heart-unhealthy decisions: Eating worse, becoming isolated/distracted from loved ones, losing out on sleep, and dropping healthy habits such as musical instruments and exercise. All of those things have an impact on heart health as well, and the effects can be lasting.
Luckily though, once you know this information, you can start to be proactive about it. Keep physically active, stay close with loved ones, eat as healthy and balanced a diet as possible, and hold on to the hobbies that give you joy.
Divorce can certainly be stressful, but it doesn’t have to take over your life. If you are facing divorce, or are concerned about a current one, do not hesitate to get in touch with a skilled attorney. They will be able to help you deal with the challenges so that you and your loved ones can get on with the rest of your lives.