Women's death rate may remain unchanged due to them being 'more independent and prepared'
Study also found mothers who had lost a child were three times more likely to die in the next two years
Men who lost their wives were more physically and emotionally affected, and this impacted on their health (posed by model)
Researchers from the Rochester Institute of Technology in America found that grieving husbands were 30 per cent more likely to die after being recently widowed, compared with their normal risk of mortality.
Women, however, did not have any increased risk of dying – perhaps due to them being more independent and prepared, the researchers suggested.
Professor Javier Espinosa, who led the study said: ‘When a wife dies, men are often unprepared.
‘They have often lost their caregiver, someone who cares for them physically and emotionally, and the loss directly impacts the husband's health.
‘This same mechanism is likely weaker for most women when a husband dies.
‘Therefore, the connection in mortalities for wives may be a reflection of how similar mates' lives become over time.'
Professor Espinosa used data records from married people born between 1910 and 1930 to examine when partners died in relation to one another.
He also uncovered a strong connection between the death of a child and the mortality of the mother, regardless of the cause of death, gender of the child, marital status, family size, income or education level of the mother.
If a woman lost a child, her chances of dying increased by as much as 133 per cent, he found.
Looking at results from more than 69,000 mothers aged between 20 and 50 over nine years, Professor Espinosa found those who had lost a child were three times more likely to die in the two years afterwards.
Prof Espinosa, an expert in health and labour economics, said: ‘To my knowledge, this is the first study to empirically analyse this issue with a large, nationally represented US data set.
Professor Espinosa also found that mothers who lost a child were three times more likely to die in the two years afterwards
Prof Espinosa's study, co-written by William Evans from the University of Notre Dame, was published in the Economics and Human Biology journal.
The research adds to the theory that it may really be possible for some of us to die of a broken heart. Just last week researchers from the University Clinic of Rostock, in northern Germany claimed to have discovered exactly how a sudden discovery or traumatic experience can be fatal.
They say the news or event causes the body to produce large amounts of stress hormones including adrenaline, which narrows the main arteries which supply blood to the heart.
This paralyses the heart's main pumping chamber, causing a sudden change in rhythm similar to a heart attack.
It is estimated that 2 per cent of the 300,000 Britons recorded as having a heart attack every year have suffered from broken heart syndrome – amounting to some 6,000 patients.
Dr Christoph Nienaber, director of cardiology at the university, said: 'These patients suffer under a heavy emotional load, either positive or negative. Their hearts literally break. It usually happens within minutes to an hour of hearing the news.'