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Sibling heart attack may be warning sign

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A nation-wide study in Sweden found that the death of an adult sibling increased the likelihood of a heart attack in the population up to 18 years after the bereavement. 

The study released by the Journal of the American Heart Association found only a limited elevation in mortality rates in the first few months after the death.  In the study, surviving women were 25 percent more likely to die of a heart attack after their sibling’s death and men were 15 percent more likely to do so.  Researchers pointed to unhealthy coping responses, mental stress and shared genetics and risk factors as possible likely causes for the increase but expect to do more research into medical records of the study participants to uncover the underlying mechanisms that creates the association.  The researchers hope to prevent heart attacks and other heart-related conditions by treating siblings early on.  If you or some other family member has a history of heart disease or heart attack or a close family member has died from a heart attack, you should have a talk with your primary care doctor.  The American Heart Association also has some suggestions for handling stress here.

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