How is a good marriage healthy for the heart?

Plenty of studies say that marriage is good for your heart. The stronger your marriage, the stronger the benefits to your heart become. For instance, married people have lower rates of heart disease than their unmarried peers, a study by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) found. Other research says the stronger your relationship with your spouse or partner, the bigger the boost to your heart health. In older couples, a good marriage quality and a lower risk of heart disease go hand-in-hand.

There might be many reasons why heart disease is less common among married couples. Some are:
  • They have better access to health insurance and healthcare.
  • Companionship has a positive impact on a person’s health.
It seems married people also do better when recovering from heart surgery. Published research found that unmarried people might be almost twice as likely to die after such a procedure compared to those who are married. It could be due to the fact that spouses offer care and support during the recovery. 

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Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Research shows that marriage is good for your heart, and not just in the Valentine’s Day box of chocolates kind of way. One study found that married men experienced healthier blood pressure changes than single men. According to another study, the chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke doubles within the first 30 days after a spouse dies. Some research indicates that this may be caused partially by partners being less likely to take their medications in the month after a spouse’s death, but there’s also evidence that losing a spouse is associated with harmful changes in blood pressure, heart rate and other physiological functions.

It’s not enough to be married, though. One study using computed axial tomography (CT) scan showed that those who felt they had a supportive spouse had less calcium buildup in their arterial walls, meaning they were at lower risk for heart disease. Couples that were ambivalent about how supportive their spouses were exhibited higher calcium levels in their vessels.
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Women who are in satisfying marriages have a health advantage over unmarried women or those in unsatisfying marriages, according to a 2003 study published in Health Psychology. The study, which followed 493 women age 42 to 50 over 13 years, found that women in good marriages were less likely to develop risk factors leading to cardiovascular disease compared to other middle-age women.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.