There are benefits to finding that special someone, because marriage helps your heart recover in the next two years after surgery.
- Researchers studied over 1,500 participants
- Among them, 65% were married, 21% widowed, 12% divorced or separated, 2% never married
- Chances of dying or developing disabilities post-op were 19% for those married, 39% for the those widowed
- Overall, married patients had a 40% better chance at a good recovery
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania drew a number of 1,576 participants, over 50 years old, and analyzed their answers regarding health, functioning, medical care, and family or marital status. The bigger study has been collecting data from over 29,000 people since 1998, with interviews held every 2 years.
After the participants underwent heart surgery, defined as any kind of cardiovascular intervention, they examined their rate of death and odds of survival post-op. Among them, 65% were married, 21% were widowed, 12% were divorced or separated, and 2% of them had never been married.
Furthermore, the researchers inquired about six different activities and the patients’ ability to perform them: moving, dressing, bathing, eating, getting out of bed, and going to the bathroom. By measuring their difficulty in performing small daily tasks, they were able to understand the amount of both self-care and dependence on others.
According to the team of researchers, married patients had much better chances. In fact, they were overall 40% more likely to avoid death and further complications. The team of researchers found that there was a strong correlation between marital status and post-op health. Two years after the heart surgery, they performed another series of interviews.
The most unfortunate news arrived in widowers. Among the participants who were widowers, 39% of them had either died or developed a disability in lieu of the operation. The numbers dropped down the list, to 29% for divorced or separated patients, and to 20% for those who had never been married. However, the numbers were best for those involved in a marriage.
Married participants had an only 19% chance of experiencing complications or death post-op. This means that their chances were starkly improved, though it has been noted that the study has not found a cause-and-effect sort of relationship. That has been emphasized due to the fact that the ‘never married’ group fared almost just as well.
The results only led to speculations from the authors that married patients better enjoy the benefits of social support from their loving spouse. According co-author of the study, Dr. Mark Neuman, marriage may be an indicator of the patient’s chances at survival. This is likely due to the additional care they receive post-operation. A loving or careful spouse would either encourage self-care or immediately refer to a doctor in the case of complications.
Their findings backed another study from 2014, among 3.5 million heart patients between 21 and 102 years old. They concluded that the risk of cardiovascular problems leading to death were far less likely for those who were married. This has been attributed to the fact that loved ones often push for doctor visits as soon as any symptoms arrive. People on their own may be more recklessly stubborn or fearful of the answer.
While the study certainly did not imply to hurry into marriage for the health of your heart, it underlines the issue of finding the right person. On a more romantic aspect, it seems that finding that someone who will truly be there “in sickness and in health” may just save your life.
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