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To love, honour and make healthier – marriage may be good for the heart

Marriage is good for heart health, a new study suggests

 

Experts have found that people living with any of the three biggest risk factors for heart disease have higher survival rates if they are married. The study, which is to be presented to the British Cardiovascular Society conference in Manchester, examined data on more than 900,000 patients with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes which was obtained from hospitals in northern England between January 2000 and March 2013. Image: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Experts have found that people living with any of the three biggest risk factors for heart disease have higher survival rates if they are married.

The study, which is to be presented to the British Cardiovascular Society conference in Manchester, examined data on more than 900,000 patients with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes which was obtained from hospitals in northern England between January 2000 and March 2013.

Researchers based at Aston Medical School in Birmingham studied the survival of these patients and compared it to their marital status.

They found that people with high cholesterol were 16% more likely to be alive at the end of the study if they were married compared to those who were single.

Meanwhile, married people with diabetes had a 14% higher chance of survival compared to those who were single.

And married patients with high blood pressure were 10% more likely to be alive at the end of the study period compared to singletons.

“Our research suggests that marriage offers a protective effect, which is probably down to having support in controlling the key risk factors for heart disease,” said Dr Paul Carter, lead study author based at the Algorithm for Comorbidities, Associations, Length of stay and Mortality (ACALM) study unit.

“The findings shouldn’t be seen as a reason to get married, but rather as encouragement for people to build strong support networks with their families and friends.”

Dr Rahul Potluri, senior author and founder of the ACALM study unit, added: “Some of our earlier studies have shown that people who suffer a heart attack will have higher survival rates if they are married. This new study has helped to unpick some of the underlying factors behind this.”

Commenting on the study, Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said: “The relationships we develop are not only important for our well-being and living a fulfilling life, but it seems marriage is associated with a longer life too.

“The take-home message is that our social interactions, as well as medical risk factors such as high blood pressure, are important determinants of both our health and well-being.

“Whether you are married or not, if you have any of the main risk factors for heart disease then you can call upon loved ones to help you to manage them. You can also speak to your GP or the BHF’s Heart Helpline for advice and support.”

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