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Two hearts beat as one

You can die of a broken heart, research suggests.

An Ohio husband and wife married for nearly 66 years made news this week when they died within 11 hours of each other.

“They were so committed and loyal and dedicated, they weren’t going to go anywhere without the other one,” a daughter of Harold and Ruth Knapke says.

Dr. David Casarett, medical director of hospice and palliative care at the University of Pennsylvania Health Care System, is aware of the phenomenon.

“We see it at the hospice – spouses dying within days or weeks of one another,” Casarett tells the Today show. “It definitely happens.”

One study, the Today show reports, monitored six longtime couples’ hearts as they slept. The couples were so in tune, their hearts began to beat in rhythm.

Another study looked at what looked like a heart attack — including intense chest pain — but without blocked arteries or the typical causes of cardiac arrest.

Back in the ’90s scientists discovered that extreme stress – such as that brought on by the death of a beloved spouse – could cause a medical condition that they dubbed “broken heart syndrome.”

The death of a loved one, scientists discovered, can lead to a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline, which can cause the left side of the heart to suddenly balloon in size. While the enlarged side struggles to pump, the right side keeps pumping sometimes with even more forceful contractions.

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