LONDON — The grass may be greenest on the hitched side, after all. Recent research finds that being married may help prevent heart disease and stroke, as well as the associated risk of death.
Studies have shown that 80 percent of cardiovascular disease cases are attributed to several widely-accepted risk factors: age, gender, high blood pressure, smoking, and diabetes. The international team of researchers behind this latest work sought to determine which risk factors cause the other 20 percent. Previous research into marital status has yielded mixed results.
For their study, researchers analyzed databases from 34 relevant studies published between 1963 and 2015. They examined medical and marital status data from more than 2 million people aged between 42 and 77 in Europe, North America, the Middle East, and Asia.
Data showed that, compared to married people, non-married people (never married, widowed, or divorced) had a 42 percent higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and 16 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease.
Not being married was also shown to cause a higher risk of death from coronary heart disease (42 percent) and stroke (55 percent).
The researchers posit, based on their findings, that marital status should be considered a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, as well as survival rates in general.
“Future research should focus around whether marital status is a surrogate marker for other adverse health behaviour or cardiovascular risk profiles that underlies our reported findings or whether marital status should be considered as a risk factor by itself,” the authors wrote.
The study was published in the journal Heart.