Happy marriage makes a healthy heart

By Shayna Brouker • Published: June 21st, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Vowing to have and to hold in sickness and in health can really pay off during those not-so-healthy times, and not just when you’ve been hit with a horrible case of the flu. When the going gets tough, good spouses help each other get through the “in sickness” part of “In sickness and in health.” New research from Emory University found that married adults are three times more likely than singles to survive the three months after having heart surgery.

The study, published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, evaluated surveys from 500 patients before they underwent emergency or voluntary coronary bypass surgery. Then they compared the results of married patients with those of singles. Singletons were sadly about 70 percent more likely to die in the five years following surgery. But the benefit of wedded bliss carried well past the three-month recovery period and extended five years afterward.

Although an analysis of the data showed that smoking history accounted for the lower survival rates in the single patients over this longer term, interviews with the patients found that marrieds felt more optimistic about their outcome and were better able to manage pain and anxiety about surgery. And all that nagging from your spouse to take your medicine and stop smoking can pay off in the long run.

But other studies show it’s not all bad news for the single set. The health of unhitched people has improved in recent years, closing the gap with wedded couples. Though married folks are still healthier than lone wolves, a bad marriage isn’t better than no marriage. Unhealthy marriages can affect your health in very real ways, increasing stress and even increasing the chance of getting heart disease. So be sure to choose your spouse wisely — your health is counting on it.