Debbie Reynolds' Stroke Highlights When People Follow Loved Ones in Death

Debbie Reynolds died one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher.

There is no evidence linking the two deaths, but some published medical studies have found that people appear to be more at risk of dying in the months to years after losing a loved one.

In a 2013 study published in American Journal of Public Health, researchers studied 171,720 couples older than 60 and found a rise in mortality for people who unexpectedly lost a spouse, compared with those whose spouse died because of a chronic condition.

Dr. Guilherme Oliveira, a cardiologist at Harrington Heart and Vascular Institute at the University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, said it’s unclear whether a specific death can directly contribute to the death of a family member, but pointed out that doctors have long known that emotions can have a physical effect on health.

It’s unclear what may have caused Reynolds' stroke or whether she had hypertension.

Separately, doctors have also long known about a rare condition called the takotsubo syndrome, nicknamed the "broken heart" syndrome. Despite its name, however, the syndrome is rarely fatal and is believed to occur when a surge in hormones causes the heart muscle to dilate and weaken.

Oliveira said the condition is thought to be caused by "an event that shocks the body psychologically or physically."

The syndrome is associated with "negative emotions," but can also be caused by shockingly positive news and mainly affects older women, Oliveira said.

Additionally, physical stress on the body such as burns, infection or other trauma can cause the syndrome to develop.

Dr. Mehgan Teherani, a pediatric resident at Phoenix Children’s Hospital who’s currently working at the ABC News Medical Unit, contributed to this story.