Researchers at the University of Birmingham in the UK have discovered why people who have lost relatives or friends die soon after. According to researchers, the answer should be sought in the functioning of the immune system.
People who died during the mourning died of “heartbreak”. These words are heard often. Recently, scientists have proven that the old saying can be true, as grief over the loss of a loved one leads to serious disorders in the immune system.
The death of a spouse, close friend, or relative can have a devastating effect on the body’s ability to fight infection. Therefore, it is not surprising that a widow or widower die suddenly, despite their good health.
In an article published in Immunity and Aging, a team of researchers from the University of Birmingham studied the effects of bereavement on neutrophils, red blood cells that play a key role in fighting bacterial infections such as pneumonia.
Blood samples were taken to see how well neutrophils do in protecting the body from infectious agents.
After analyzing, the researchers found that neutrophils regularly perform their functions in orphaned young people, but a different picture was already diagnosed in men and women over 65 years old – neutrophils could not cope with bacteria.
For this reason, according to Dr. Anne Phillips, elderly people who experienced the death of loved ones were potentially exposed to deadly infections.
“The biggest killer of the elderly is pneumonia. With this infection, the neutrophils weren’t working properly,” Philips said.
During the period of mourning, an elderly person is also susceptible to other diseases, including cancer. The only salvation for the elderly who are going through a hard time may be the use of hormone therapy with dehydroepiandrosterone, which will contribute to strengthening the immune system.