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Marriage can reduce heart attack risk

4 February 2013

Marriage can reduce heart attack risk

Being married has been shown to cut the risk of having a heart attack and makes it more likely you will survive if one does happen.  This benefit is even greater for the woman in the relationship.

A study looked at information on people over the age of 35 living in four different regions in Finland. All fatal and non-fatal heart attacks were recorded, known as acute cardiac syndromes (ACS).  There were 15,330 ACS events recorded over a 10 year period and 7,703 resulted in death after 28 days.  The results showed that the events were 58-66% higher in unmarried individuals.  The difference in deaths was even greater with a 60-168% greater chance in single men and a 71-175% high occurrence in single women.

It is believed that the benefit comes from a positive effect on lifestyle, with married couples having more money, greater social support and a healthier lifestyle.  Unmarried people are more likely to suffer from depression, which could also hinder recovery from a heart attack.

Lead author Dr Aino Lammintausta from Turku University Hospital in Finland said, “Previous research suggested being unmarried or living alone increased the chances of suffering and dying from a heart attack but rarely included data on women and older age groups.  Especially among middle-aged men and women, being married and cohabiting are associated with considerably better prognosis both before hospitalisation and after reaching hospital alive.”

She added, “Marriage seems to protect women even more than men from out-of-hospital death.  The lower cardiac risks of married persons may result from a protective effect of marriage.  For example, they may have a better financial status, better health habits, and higher levels of social
support compared to the unmarried, thereby promoting their overall health.  It may be assumed that resuscitation or calling for help was initiated faster and more often among those married or