Marriage a Blessing for Heart Attack Patients

They have better survival than divorced or single patients

(STEVEN REINBERG FOR HEALTHDAY NEWS) Marriage is good medicine for someone who has a heart attack.

That’s the conclusion of a study that tracked nearly 1 million British patients for 13 years. The researchers found that married patients who had a heart attack were 14 percent more likely to survive until the end of the study than singles.

RELATED: These Conditions Affect Women, Men Differently

And compared to divorced patients, survival odds for wedded folks were 16 percent higher, said study senior author Dr. Rahul Potluri. He’s a clinical lecturer at Aston University Medical School in Birmingham, England.

“Marriage is a proxy for psychological risk factors which are important for ensuring compliance to medication,” Potluri said. In other words, the social and physical support a spouse can provide translates to significant health benefits.

For instance, marriage appears to have a positive effect on the three largest risk factors for heart disease — high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure, Potluri said.

Compared with unmarried patients, a spouse with high cholesterol was 16 percent more likely to be alive at the end of the study. Married patients with type 2 diabetes were 14 percent more likely to survive, and patients with high blood pressure had a 10 percent survival benefit with marriage, the researchers found.

In addition, spouses help patients improve their lifestyle, lose weight, eat better and stop smoking, Potluri said.

The researchers didn’t look specifically at gender differences, but they plan to in future studies.

However, Potluri suspects that the worst survival is among divorced men, followed by divorced women, single men and single women.

“Divorce is a double whammy,” he said. “Divorce doesn’t happen overnight. It happens over time during which patients lose their will to look after themselves.”  READ THE FULL STORY AT HEALTHDAY.COM