Marriage can be good for your heart.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
Studies show that the risk of ever getting a heart attack is lower among married couples and that married couples do better when heart problems do occur.
There are many reasons behind the statistics, but experts point to the fact that a loving spouse looks out for you, potentially lowering risk factors by encouraging a healthy lifestyle and encouraging you to see a doctor or to go to an emergency room promptly if your health changes.
Your emotional heart
It’s well known that your emotions influence your physical health, particularly your heart health, and existing studies point to the fact that husbands fare better following cardiac events than their bachelor counterparts.
The 2011 Canadian study was one of the first that quantified the benefit of being a married man.
New study says being married lowers your risk for heart attack
A newer, wide-ranging study says women benefit from being married as well as men.
Researchers from New York University Langone Medical Center analyzed a database of 3.5 million heart patients ranging from 21 to 102 years of age. After taking lifestyle and health factors into account, they concluded that being married lowered the risk of ever having a heart attack.
Cardiologist Curtis Rimmerman, MD, did not participate in the study but reviewed the results. He says, “There are tangible benefits from being in a solid relationship. A wife or husband might push their loved one to see a doctor before problems develop, or even to live a healthier lifestyle.”
And then there are the more intangible benefits. “The heartening effect of having a loved one to care for and someone that cares for you cannot be ignored,” says Dr. Rimmerman.
When heart attacks occur, being married improves odds
A population-based study from Finland looked at more than 15,000 cases of recorded heart attacks. Researchers analyzed differences in social status and frequency and outcomes of acute coronary syndrome.
Married men and women had less risk of heart attack, and among those who suffered a heart attack, the risk of death was higher for unmarried men (56 percent), and unmarried women (43 percent).
Dr. Rimmerman didn’t participate in the study but says anything that gets you to the hospital quicker saves lives. “In the setting of a heart attack, time is muscle. The longer a heart attack patient waits, the greater chance of irreversible heart muscle death.”
Rules to live by
No one advocates running out and getting married just to improve your heart health. After all, a bad relationship can be bad for your health. So whether you are married or single, always pay close attention to warning signs of heart trouble.
Dr. Rimmerman says, “When you suspect a heart attack, whether you are married or not, it’s of vital importance to call 911.”