Marriage linked to lower heart risks in study of more than 3.5 million adults

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People who are married have lower rates of several cardiovascular diseases compared with those who are single, divorced or widowed, according to research. The relationship between marriage and lower odds of vascular diseases is especially pronounced before age 50. For people aged 50 and younger, marriage is associated with 12 percent lower odds of any vascular disease. This number drops to 7 percent for people ages 51 to 60 and only 4 percent for those 61 and older.

People who are married have lower rates of several cardiovascular diseases compared with those who are single, divorced or widowed, according to research to be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 63rd Annual Scientific Session. The relationship between marriage and lower odds of vascular diseases is especially pronounced before age 50.

"These findings certainly shouldn't drive people to get married, but it's important to know that decisions regarding who one is with, why, and why not may have important implications for vascular health," said Carlos L. Alviar M.D., cardiology fellow, New York University Langone Medical Center, and the lead investigator of the study.

Alviar said that while earlier, smaller studies reported similar findings, the size of this study, as well as the ability to consider four different vascular diseases — peripheral artery disease, cerebrovascular disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm and coronary artery disease — and to discriminate between various types of marital status makes this research different from anything that's previously been done.

"We are able to take a better look at a spectrum of relationships," Alviar said.

Researchers prospectively analyzed records from a database of more than 3.5 million people nationwide who were evaluated for cardiovascular diseases. Patients' demographic information and cardiovascular risk factors were obtained, and researchers estimated the odds of disease by marital status after analyzing the presence of vascular disease in different blood vessel locations such as the coronary arteries, leg arteries, carotids and the abdominal aorta. Traditional cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, smoking and obesity were similar to the overall U.S. population, according to authors. Participants' ages ranged from 21 to 102 years old, with the average age of 64, and 63 percent were female. Overall, 69.1 percent (2.4 million) were married, 13 percent (477,577) were widowed, 8.3 percent (292,670) were single; 9 percent (319,321) were divorced.

After adjusting for age, sex, race and other cardiovascular risk factors, researchers found marital status was independently associated with cardiovascular disease. These findings were consistent for both men and women across the four conditions.

In particular, married people were 5 percent less likely to have any vascular disease compared with singles. They also had 8 percent, 9 percent and 19 percent lower odds of abdominal aortic aneurysm, cerebrovascular disease and peripheral arterial disease, respectively. The odds of coronary disease were lower in married subjects compared with those who were widowed and divorced, but this was not statistically significant when compared to single subjects, which were used as the reference group for comparison.

Written By: ScienceDaily
continue to source article at sciencedaily.com

15 COMMENTS

  1. How much of this physiological and how much is behavioural, is a factor to consider. As in “I could not help but notice, sweetheart, that is a new and nasty looking mole on your back,” or “Since when did you start panting for breath when you climbed the stairs. I’m booking you in to see the Doctor on Monday!”

    On the other hand, there is “Don’t worry darling, I’m sure its OK. Can I take the car on Monday? I want to increase your life insurance.”

  2. This is BS. You have to look at who sponsored the study. When totally independent studies are done, there is no “marriage makes everything better” correlation. I’d like to look at their data.

    I noticed one thing from the statistics they did give that the study consisted of 69% married people. I think if you took as large a sample of single people (never married) you’d see those small percentage “gains” go away.

    Marriage is really pushed in our society and so many groups fund studies that manipulate their data to get the result they want. If being single makes you happy — stay that way. If it makes you miserable, then finding something that does make you happy will be a boon to your health — it doesn’t have to be marriage.

    • In reply to #6 by MAJORPAIN:

      This is BS. You have to look at who sponsored the study. When totally independent studies are done, there is no “marriage makes everything better” correlation. I’d like to look at their data.

      I couldn’t agree more. You could just as easily make a negative personality correlation between lower rates of heart disease and people who are more emotionally pliable and willing to bend to social pressures (such as marriage). People who are married and choose to stay that way instead of taking risks and leaving an unhappy marriage are more likely to be types who settle, give up, accept their lot, thus living a less meaningful, less fulfilling life that’s dragged out longer than more adventurous types would be willing to tolerate.

  3. I don’t think that a religious imposition like marriage is the reason for these results. The raising of a nuclear family and the satisfaction associated with the instinctual cooperative union between enthusiastic partners is the real reason. I don’t like the way they associate religious impositions with some sort of moral success or health benefit. Does this research include unmarried couples?

    • In reply to #7 by zula:

      I don’t think that a religious imposition like marriage is the reason for these results.

      Your comment is so, so bad I have to point out the error.

      Marriage is not a religious institution.

      Marriage is a civil contract between 2 people. The idea that anyone, let allow someone frequenting a reason and science web site, could make this horrible statement without knowing is beyond me. How dare you think I was married because of religious pressure and please don’t make any assumptions about anyone else. It’s like saying christmas is christian, sure they want it to be but it is not and reality trumps religious fantasy.

      I don’t know which is older, celebrating 1) the life union of a committed couple or 2) the return of the sun? All I know is they far out-date religion let alone the crappy ones that we have now that claim they’ve been around since creation.

      I don’t see where the results are explain as the result of religious badgering. Marriage as a religious imposition is a horrible meme that should die and not be propped up by anyone with any reason or respect.

  4. LIKE so many sweeping studies based simply on the availability of data and statistical associations… and not based on interventions likely to impact health, or biological plausibility, this study is rather lacking in usefulness and cannot comment on causality. Further, they used measurement made in different blood vessels (likely using Doppler imaging/flow) as a proxy for the odds of acquiring CV “disease”, versus any diagnosed and treated clinical syndromes.

    AT best, a happily married or content couple would be a proxy for lower stress levels… or a proxy for several other variables, like better nutrition/diet… or having health insurance and regular check-ups which would catch hypertension, hyperlipidemia… diabetes earlier… etc.

    IT was interesting that being married did NOT result in significantly lower rates of coronary (heart) disease versus being widowed or divorced, which makes the status of just being “married” suspect.

    AS a retired physicians… i have seen so many of these studies make headlines one day… generate comments on chatty “news programs”, then fade into obscurity. Nothing in medicine will change based on this particular one.

    • In reply to #8 by Spin-oza:

      The first thing I thought is “or people who are less prone to heart disease are more likely to marry.”

      However, they do say
      “After adjusting for age, sex, race and other cardiovascular risk factors, researchers found marital status was independently associated with cardiovascular disease. These findings were consistent for both men and women across the four conditions.” More here and here. No mention of controlling by income, which makes me a bit suspicious.

      This was announced at a conference and there doesn’t seem to be a paper published yet, or at least I’ve not found it. The titles tend to be highly technical, however, so I may simply be looking for the wrong thing. I’d expect links in the press releases if there were one, though.

    • In reply to #9 by mmurray:

      Gay people need to start suing.

      Single people need to start suing also. Discrimination against single individuals will be the next issue on the forefront. This will hit big when single boomer women age and there is no family member to care for her. (Group homes are the next thing.) Single people pay more taxes, have more challenges getting loans for mortgages, pay more on a solo vacation, are frequently pointed to a bad seat in a restaurant, are viewed as “loose” or less moral and selfish, are viewed as less stable, are overlooked or rights are intruded upon by parents who feel their children should have preferential treatment. In the workplace, single individuals are expected to stay late and are overlooked for promotions. Some statistics show they are even paid less compared to married individuals with children. If I’m ill in the hospital why cannot I choose to have friends instead of family gathered around? When someone brings up issues and challenges single people face, it is considered a temporary situation – a stepping stone to marriage. If someone stays single by choice, they are assumed flawed in some way. Let’s face it, one of the biggest challenges we face is financial and it helps to have someone pay half of everything in your home, plus half the utilities…Maybe the researchers should look to society to see how it is set up for partnership to succeed. That would be a start.

  5. Somehow this just doesn’t gel. Maybe happy people with lots of social interactions live longer ?

    I just can’t see the Grim Reaper inspecting marriage certificates.

    ( I know, I know, an argument from incredulity !)

  6. I remember a study a few years ago that found that marriage benefitted men more than women when it came to diseases that have a distinct correlation to stress, such as heart disease, obesity, and depression. I can’t remember if they controlled for things like traditional gender roles, but I seem to recall that women who are expected to keep up with domestic chores and child care as well as holding down a job worked an average of something like six or seven more hours per day than men and had a correspondingly higher rate of stress-related illnesses compared to men who could come home to a hot meal and relax.

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