Wives Save Lives

A Canadian study about marriage and heart health

heart vascular health line art

Marriage is good for you. Study after study has shown that married couples live longer, enjoy better health and are happier than their single peers. Now it’s being suggested that marriage can have a positive affect on how quickly you’re treated for a heart attack. A Canadian study found that married heart attack victims arrive at the hospital a half hour sooner, on average, than singles. Interestingly, the sole beneficiaries of this effect seemed to be the husbands.

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Why marriage helps husbands

What could account for this gender discrepancy? As an author of the study told the New York Times, “Wives are more likely to take the caregiver role and advise their husbands to go to the E.R.”. Wives don’t even need to be present to have an effect, according to the study. The influence of simply being married nudges husbands to seek help for suspicious chest pains sooner than they would in the absence of a spouse.

One expert’s perspective

Cardiologist Curtis Rimmerman, MD, of the Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute, and author of The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Heart Attacks, notes that “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. When you suspect a heart attack, whether you are married or not, it’s of vital importance to call 911 versus arrange for safe and immediate transport to the hospital.”

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