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Marriage Linked with Lower Heart Disease Risk

Mar 29, 2014 07:39 AM EDT

(Photo : REUTERS/Radoslaw Kazmierczak/Agencja Gazeta)

Married people have lower risk of heart diseases than their single or divorced peers, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center, was based on data from over 3.5 million people. The team found that marriage cuts cardiovascular disease risk and it  was consistently low for married people regardless of their gender, age and other health complications.

In other words, marriage might be an independent factor associated with heart health.

The study findings are hardly new. Previous research has shown that married people have better chances of surviving a heart attack and having a long, healthy life than their single peers. Being married also increases chances of surviving cancer and lowers risk of early death in men diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

The strength of this study is that it is based on data from millions of people living in different parts of the U.S. Researchers found that being married was linked with a 5 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease than being single. Also, younger couples (those under the age 50 years) had a 12 percent lower risk of heart problems when compared with their single/divorced peers. The difference in cardiovascular risk narrowed with age; with older couples having a seven percent lower chance of suffering from heart problems.

"Our survey results clearly show that when it comes to cardiovascular disease, marital status does indeed matter," said senior study investigator and NYU Langone cardiologist Jeffrey Berger, MD.

Berger said that the study results suggest that doctors might need to pay attention to the health of single, divorced people.

 "If one of my patients is recently widowed or divorced, I'm increasingly vigilant about examining that patient for signs of any type of cardiovascular disease and depression," he added.

Why Marriage cuts Heart Disease Risk?                   

According to Berger, marriage might provide a physical and emotional support system during illness and stress.

Other research has shown that men who are married are more likely to undergo health examinations than single men. Also, married men are more likely to exercise and eat healthy than their single brethren.

"Married people can look after each other, making sure their spouse eats healthy, exercises regularly, and takes medication as prescribed," Berger said in a news release. "A spouse can also help keep doctors' appointments and provide transportation, making for easier access to health care services."

The study was funded by NYU Langone and the findings will be presented at the scientific sessions of the American College of Cardiology. 

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