Single, working moms carry stressed hearts

By Shayna Brouker • Published: September 30th, 2016
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Being a mother is a difficult job. But being a single, working mother can make things even more demanding — as well as add a burden on your heart health.

Dutch researchers have found that single, working mothers have a greater risk of stroke and heart disease than married mothers with jobs. For the study, researchers analyzed data from more than 18,000 working mothers in the United States and Europe. About 11 percent of the women in the United States are single moms, compared with five percent in Europe.

The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that single, working moms were more likely to smoke and have a higher risk for heart disease than married mothers.

Overall, single, working moms had 1.4 times the risk of heart disease and a stroke risk that was 1.7 times greater than their married counterparts. Working mothers in Europe also had a substantially lower risk of heart disease and stroke than American mothers, which researchers said could be related to generous maternity leave and flexible work schedules in many European countries.

But they have a message for mothers, no matter where they are in the world: Take time for yourself every day. If you can’t get alone time, try an activity that you and your kids can do together, such as taking a walk or coloring. Nourish your body and mind with yoga before bed and stress-busting foods including avocados, salmon, pistachios and dark chocolate. Research shows dark chocolate can lower the stress hormone cortisol, which makes blood pressure and blood sugar levels spike.

And whenever you can, splurge on child care and go out — or stay in and treat yourself. You’ve earned it.