Is there truth to the saying that you can die of a broken heart? Perhaps there is.
Wilf Russell, 93, and Vera, 91, were a British couple married for 74 years. Wilf had been battling dementia and was in an aged care home, unable to recognise his wife after the condition set in. Vera, meanwhile was sickly ever since her husband stopped knowing who she was.
Just last week, Wilf passed away, and exactly four minutes after this, his wife who was in a nearby hospital and did not know her darling husband had died, took her last breath too.
Their granddaughter Stephanie Welch is reported as saying, “My grandad was diagnosed with dementia a year ago and he had to go into the care home a couple of months back. My nan went to see him recently and he didn’t recognise her at all — her health started deteriorating from that day.”
“I went to visit her at Leicester Royal Infirmary on Sunday and she opened her eyes and asked me where Wilf was. The last thing she said to me was, ‘We’re a right pair, aren’t we?’”
Stephanie mentions that she feels her grandmother was broken-hearted and was just waiting for her husband to go.
A love story
Wilf and Vera first met when they were both still teenagers. They got engaged before he went to North Africa and Italy with the Royal Air Force during World War-II.
Marriage followed Wilf’s return home, after which he worked as an engineer. They leave behind two sons, five grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
Family members say they were always a very loving couple who adored their family and never spent a night away from each other until Wilf’s dementia set in.
Broken heart syndrome
When a couple such as Wilm and Vera have been together for so long, they probably develop a sixth sense about each other, including moments of pain… and perhaps impending death.
Dying of a broken heart is more than just a romantic notion, though. It’s an actual condition also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy, according to the American Heart Association.
Women are more likely than men to experience this condition, characterized by sudden, intense chest pain that is caused by a surge in stress hormones. Usually, these hormones are released in response to an extremely stressful event or experience.
It’s not the same as a heart attack, even though the symptoms are similar, explains the American Heart Association. It does not involve blocked arteries as in a heart attack.
The American Heart Association further explains that in Broken Heart Syndrome, a part of the heart temporarily enlarges and doesn’t pump effectively. But the rest of the heart functions normally. It usually does not result in death except in a very small percentage of those who experience it.
We don’t know if Vera died of this condition. But after ‘death did them part’, she and her husband are probably together again, finally.
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