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Mar 06, 2013

Marriage Reduces Heart Attack Risk

A Finnish study finds that unmarried men and women were much more likely to have a heart attack than their married peers.

We know there are many ways to protect our hearts, like by exercising and eating healthy. But who would have thought that being married could actually protect our hearts and reduce heart attack risk?

According to a recent study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, relationship status may actually have a big impact on risk for heart attack and even death for adults. Researchers collected data on more than 15,000 Finnish people over the age of 35 that suffered a heart attack between 1993 and 2002. When looking at marital status, they found that unmarried men were 58-66% more likely to have a heart attack than married men, and unmarried women were 60-65% percent more likely to have a heart attack than married women. Single men and women were also significantly more likely to die within a month after a heart attack compared to those who are married. Interestingly, researchers found that fatality rates of single, middle-aged men and women were higher than those living with at least one other person, regardless of marital status.

Many other studies have had similar findings, leaving many wondering why relationship status could play such a large role in our health. For starters, being married or simply living with a roommate improves your chances of getting medical help in the event of an emergency, which helps explain why single people have a greater mortality risk than people who are married or live with another person.

But most importantly, many experts believe that social support could be a driving factor behind the association between marital status and cardiovascular risk. Spouses are often advocates for each other’s health and support each other in making healthier choices. If a husband has a heart attack and is prescribed medication to reduce his risk of having another heart attack, his wife will likely remind him to take his medication on a regular basis. Having another person engaged in your health like this often helps boost overall health and improves outcomes.

Questions for You to Consider

  • How does relationship status reduce the risk of a heart attack?
  • Being married—or even having a roommate—improves the chances of getting medical help in the event of an emergency rather than living alone. More importantly, however, experts believe that having a partner could explain the association between marital status and cardiovascular risk. Spouses often advocate for each other's health and serve as good support systems for making healthier choices.

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