Health

People Think Debbie Reynolds Died of a Broken Heart, Science Might Agree

Pundits and fans alike believe Debbie Reynolds died of a broken heart. The 84-year-old actress died Wednesday, one day after the death of her daughter, Carrie Fisher

“She wanted to be with Carrie,” Todd Fisher, Reynold's son, told Variety Wednesday. Reynolds was rushed to the hospital Wednesday afternoon after suffering a stroke and later died that evening.

ITS TRUE ONE CAN DIE OF A BROKEN HEART 💔 RIP DEBBIE 🙏🏽 @ Hollywood https://t.co/GQnzXVPd9t

— JEREMY SCOTT (@ITSJEREMYSCOTT) December 29, 2016

Debbie Reynolds just proved that it is quite possible to die of a broken heart. RIP Carrie Fisher RIP Debbie Reynolds. Loved you both.

— Anna (@TallyAnnaE) December 29, 2016

debbie reynolds died the day after her daughter did.... dying of a broken heart is legit😢 #rip

— brielle biermann (@BrielleZolciak) December 29, 2016

The American Heart Association has a name for what casual observers call "broken heart syndrome" - stress-induced cardiomyopathy. It's a sudden surge of stress hormones and altered heart rhythm that's mistaken for a heart attack, but doesn't involve blocked arteries. And unlike a heart attack, recovery can be quick with little lasting damage - if it happens in a healthy person.

“There’s actually a syndrome called broken heart syndrome.” @DrLaPook explains how the stress of a loss can have a devastating impact. pic.twitter.com/f7QIKdksEJ

— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) December 29, 2016

Likewise, researchers and psychologists call the quick death of a spouse after their husband or wife passes the "widowhood effect." A Harvard study published in 2013 found that surviving spouses have as much as a 66 percent higher chance of passing away within the first three months after they've been widowed.

Beyond that, a groundbreaking Danish study revealed that the death of a partner is linked to an increased risk of the survivor developing atrial fibrillation, a heart condition that can be triggered by illness or increased stress - including grief.

Debbie Reynolds' death has brought up questions about “broken heart syndrome." What you need to know: https://t.co/lYv76gK6Su pic.twitter.com/hzfE3ZwiNl

— WebMD (@WebMD) December 29, 2016

The study "revealed that individuals whose cohabiting partner or spouse had died had an increased risk of getting AF within 30 days of the bereavement – a risk estimated to be 41 percent higher than average," according to Business Insider.

But could the same bond extend to mother and child?

According to both Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic, broken-heart syndrome can take place after the unexpected death of any loved one, and certainly a beloved child.

Debbie Reynolds has died, her son Todd Fisher tells CNN:
"She spoke to me this morning and said she missed Carrie. She’s with Carrie now"

— Ram Ramgopal (@RamCNN) December 29, 2016

Beyond that, Fisher once spoke of her mother's health as "frail" in a May 2016 interview, saying "It's a lot of times terrifying watching my mother, who's incredibly resilient, coping with certain health issues that she's had."

While initial news reports said Reynolds suffered a stroke, a source told CNN that she began having breathing problems after Fisher's death. Her son Todd told E! News that Reynolds had been struggling with tremendous stress and emotion since Carrie's heart attack on Friday.