A person who is married not only has a better chance of survival after suffering from a heart attack, but matrimony apparently can help keep major risks for cardiovascular diseases at bay.
These were the findings of a study conducted by researchers from the Aston Medical School in Birmingham, United Kingdom, which involved 929,552 participants. One of the largest studies on the subject matter, it was done between 2000 and 2013.
"The study confirms the importance of these psycho-social factors in patients with cardiovascular diseases as a whole," noted Dr Rahul Potluri, senior author and member of the European Cardiac Society.
Researchers found that married patients are more likely to survive an event compared with single patients. Furthermore, one of marriage's benefits is protecting spouses against preventable risks for heart attacks, which cause 80 percent of attacks.
"Marriage and having a spouse at home is likely to offer emotional and physical support on a number of levels, ranging from encouraging patients to live healthier lifestyles," said Dr Paul Carter, lead author of the study.
A significant finding is that married patients tend to help their partners cope with the condition and comply with their medical treatment, thus greatly improving their chances for survival.
Of the participants, 25,287 had a previous heart attack, 168,431 were hypertensive, 53,055 had high cholesterol, and 68,098 had Type 2 Diabetes mellitus, as under the Algorithm for Comorbidities, Associations, Length of Stay and Mortality (ACALM) database.
The researchers categorized the participants as either single, married, divorced, or widowed, and followed up with them until 2013.
“Marriage was also protective in patients with the three biggest risk factors for heart disease. Married patients with high cholesterol were 16 percent more likely to be alive at the end of the study,” according to the researchers, in discussing the results.
Further, married patients with diabetes had 14 percent risk of developing CVD, while those who had high blood pressure had 10 percent.
Conversely, the researchers also found that patients who were divorced had high blood pressure or a previous heart attack and had lower survival rates, compared with married patients.
The team stressed a holistic approach to prevent cardiovascular problems as stress and stressful life events are linked to heart diseases.
“It’s important that patients with these dangerous, but preventable, risk factors follow the lifestyle and medication advice of their doctors to limit the risk, and social support networks are vital in doing so,” the researchers concluded. MIMS