Putting all the late night jokes aside… a team of researchers in Finland has found that being married is actually good for the heart of both spouses. Earlier research that focused on only men suggests that being single, or living alone, ups the risk of being diagnosed or dying from heart disease. This latest work is the first bit of research to look at both men and women in terms of marriage, heart health and survival after a heart attack.
The report, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, included over 15,300 patients who’d had a heart attack between the years 1993 and 2002. Of these, 7,700 died sometime in the 28 days after the initial cardiac event. Heart attacks happen when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked for enough time for part of the muscle to be damaged or die. Each year an estimated 935,000 people have a heart attack in the U.S. and fortunately a good many return to work and their normal lives within weeks of the event.
This latest research included both sexes and suggests that marriage cuts the risk of acute coronary events and death from these events in both men and women, and for all ages according to lead researcher Dr. Aino Lammintausta, who is from Turku University Hospital. Especially at midlife, men and women who are married and living together are expected to have a considerably better prognosis after a heart attack and less risk of heard disease than those who are single.
Unmarried men were from 58% to 66% more likely to have a heart attack, the rate for single women was 60% to 65% when compared to the same sex part of a couple who were married.
When it came to risk of death from heat attack, the risk was far greater for single men and women. The risk for men was 168% higher than for married men, the risk for women 175% higher than for their married counterparts. The odds held even after adjusting for age.
Why does marriage appear to confer such a benefit? Single people are more likely not to take care of themselves, to be in poorer health overall than those who are married. It’s also possible that single people are not as ready to take preventive measures, things like daily aspirin, statins for cholesterol or blood pressure medications, as a married person would be.
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Risk For Heart Trouble and Marriage Continued…
Other factors? Married people are usually better off financially, have more friends and social support and live healthier lives – all these things encourage good health. It’s especially important to acknowledge the role of social support in heart health.
Another possibility, married people may call for an ambulance sooner than a person alone, on their own. As to why marrieds survive better after the event, they often get better treatment in the hospital with a healthy mate to advocate for them, and certainly after discharge, at home with that same person there to see they take medication, eat right and follow the treatment plan.
For better or worse, it appears that being married is associated with better heart health and a lower risk of death from a heart attack, though more study is needed to confirm the finding. And if you’re single… there are things you can do to help yourself. For starters, set up a support system for yourself, someone to turn to when illness or emergencies strike.
To your good health,