Broken Hearts Are Real - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on February 01, 2015

Broken Hearts Are Real

Married people have a five percent lower risk of heart disease compared to single people, study finds.

Married people have a five percent lower
risk of heart disease compared to single
people, study finds.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, couples may be racking their brains about how to celebrate the holiday, while singles are looking for ways to either ignore the day or find someone to commiserate with.

But no matter what your opinions are of this holiday, studies are proving that relationships, both good and bad, can have an impact on our health. Specifically, they can influence our heart health.

Studies have found that married adults had less heart disease and healthier blood vessels throughout their bodies than those who were single, divorced or widowed.

In fact, the study found that married people have a five percent lower risk of heart disease compared to single people. Widowed people have a 3 percent greater risk and divorced people have a 5 percent greater risk of heart disease than married people. Age seems to play a role too. Those numbers improved significantly for married couples under the age of 50 – they have a 12 percent lower change of heart disease than other young, single people.

The story behind this data may be that there is less conflict, stress and anxiety between spouses in a healthy, strong marriage, thereby accounting for a lower risk of heart disease. Contrastingly, the extreme stress and grief associated with the loss of a spouse or a difficult divorce could explain the increased risk of cardiovascular disease for widowed and divorced individuals.

Psychological aspects of marriage may also play a role in heart health. In a partnership, your spouse may be more likely to remind you to make doctor appointments, take medication, exercise, eat well and socialize.

This same study also reported that smoking cigarettes was highest among divorced people. This is one of the major risk factors of heart disease.

Another common risk factor found in single and divorced people: obesity. Also, widowers tended to have the highest rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and an inadequate level of physical activity – a potentially lethal combination of heart disease risk factors.

However, you might not want to give all marriages credit for a healthier heart. A bad marriage can be bad for your heart as well. In fact, a bad marriage can be more harmful to your heart health than a good marriage is beneficial, according to some studies.

Researchers have found that women with a demanding, critical husband have a high risk of heart disease. Also, women tend to care for their husband’s health issues before their own, possibly even neglecting their own health conditions.

Basically, the worse the marriage and the older the woman is, the higher her risk of heart disease is.

Regardless of your relationship status come Valentine’s Day, you can show your heart some love by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Prevent heart disease by:
  • Not using or smoking tobacco
  • Exercising most days for at least 30 minutes
  • Eating a heart-healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, beans, other low-fat sources of protein and certain types of fish
  • Limiting saturated, polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats.
  • Steering clear of trans fat altogether
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Getting plenty of quality sleep
  • Getting regular health screenings – blood pressure, cholesterol levels and diabetes screenings

And, if you happen to find “the one,” you can add a happy marriage to that list.

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