Marriage is good for your heart

By June Shannon Heart News   |   20th Jun 2018

Unmarried people were at increased risk of dying from heart disease and stroke.

A new study has suggested that marriage is good for your heart. In fact, it advised that being married may even protect you from developing heart disease and stroke and reduce your chances of dying from cardiovascular disease (CVD).

The study has even prompted the researchers to suggest that marital status should be included as a risk factor for heart disease/stroke and changes of survival in its own right.

While the vast majority or 80 per cent of cardiovascular disease can be attributed to well known risk factors such as age; sex; high blood pressure; high cholesterol; smoking; and diabetes it is not clear what influences the remaining 20 per cent.

Being married may even protect you from developing heart disease and stroke

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The findings of previous research on the impact of marital status have been somewhat mixed, therefore in an effort to clarify the issues, the authors of this new study trawled research databases for relevant published studies.

Analysis of the data which included 34 studies of more than two million people revealed that, compared with married people, those who never married, were divorced or widowed were at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease (42%) and coronary artery heart disease (16%).

Not being married was also associated with a heightened risk of dying from both coronary heart disease (42%) and stroke (55%).

The analysis also showed that divorce was associated with a 35 per cent higher risk of developing heart disease for both men and women, while widowers of both sexes were 16 per cent more likely to have a stroke.

While there was no difference in the risk of death following a stroke between the married and the unmarried, this was not the case after a heart attack, the risk of which was significantly higher (42%) among those who had never married.

Not being married was associated with heightened risk of dying from coronary heart disease and stroke

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The authors warned that the methods used, and adjustments made for potentially influential factors (cardiovascular risk factors) varied considerably across all the studies, which may have affected the results of their analysis.

There was also no information on same sex partnerships or the quality of marriage, and the potential role of living with someone, as opposed to being married to them, was not explored.

However, the authors pointed out that this was the largest study of its kind to date and the age and ethnicity of the participants strengthened the wider applicability of the findings.

According to the researchers, there are various theories as to why marriage may be protective. These include earlier recognition of, and response to, health problems; better adherence to medication; better financial security; enhanced wellbeing; and better friendship networks.

"It does imply that unmarried people, like the socially deprived, deserve more meticulous attention to risk factors,"

Professor Ian Graham, Council on Cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention , Irish Heart Foundation

“Future research should focus around whether marital status is a surrogate marker for other adverse health behaviour or cardiovascular risk profiles that underlies our reported findings or whether marital status should be considered as a risk factor by itself,” the authors concluded.

Commenting on the study Professor Ian Graham, Irish Heart Foundation Council on Cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention and Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Trinity College Dublin said that while the findings were not new, this study represented a more systematic examination of the topic than previous studies carried out to date.

“It does imply that unmarried people, like the socially deprived, deserve more meticulous attention to risk factors and it would be reasonable for Guidelines on CVD prevention to mention this,” Prof Graham stated.

 

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Related Topics

alcohol. heart. stroke blood pressure cardiovascular disease cholesterol health heart heart disease marriage

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