Picture of a newly-wed couple
A study has revealed that the key to living a long time after heart surgery might just be a good marriage. Photo Credit: David Ball/Wikimedia Commons.

A long term study has just been released showing that the married have a longer survival rate after heart surgery. It has been established for a some time that being married has health benefits, and study after study confirms health benefits in marriage.

Marriage benefiting the heart not just a maudlin sentiment

In the Patrick Marber play “Closer,” one scene features a character making a statement concerning the “heart,” in the romantic sense of the word, to another character who is a doctor. The doctor asks him if he’s ever seen a human heart, and that the heart “looks like a fist wrapped in blood.” It turns out that marriage may benefit the heart in both senses of the word, as a long-term study found a correlation between marriage and survival rates after heart surgery. According to CNN, the study which appears in “Health Psychology” found that married people are 2.5 times more likely to live 15 years after undergoing a coronary bypass surgery than single people.

Applies more to men in good marriages

The study looked at survival rates among heart bypass patients from 1987 to 1990, and then caught up with them 15 years later. There were 173 men and 52 women in the study. The heart benefits of marriage were realized more by people who described themselves as being “satisfied” or “happy” with their marriages. Men in good marriages had a 15-year survival rate of 83 percent, compared with 60 percent of those who weren’t happy and 36 percent of singles.

Subjects rated their marital satisfaction the day before surgery and one year after surgery.

Women in the study fared worse if unhappy in their marriage or single, according to WebMD. Married women in good relationships had a survival rate of 83 percent 15 years after heart surgery, compared with 28 percent of unhappily married women and 27 percent of single women.

Wide swathes of literature confirms upside

According to the New York Times, the health benefits of marriage were first observed by a British doctor named William Farr. In 1858, Farr found married people reported better health overall than their single or widowed counterparts. Further studies have confirmed the health benefits of marriage, most particularly in good marriages. For instance, according to WebMD, women in bad marriages are at a higher risk of metabolic syndrome, a condition that can lead to a higher risk of heart attack or stroke. Men in bad marriages have a higher rate of suffering from depression. A 2008 study, according to the Washington Post, found happily married people had lower blood pressure on average than singles, but unhappily married people had higher blood pressure than both. A 2009 study found that people in bad marriages had a 34 percent higher risk of developing heart disease, according to CBS.

Sources

CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/08/22/marriage.heart.surgery/

WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/news/20110819/marital-satisfaction-plays-role-in-heart-bypass-survival

New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/18/magazine/18marriage-t.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1314029038-3Vnml6WEXMMZ6%207mhbn2Qg&pagewanted=1

WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20090304/bad-marriages-take-health-toll-on-women

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/07/AR2011020703564.html

CBS: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/10/08/health/webmd/main3345724.shtml

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