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STUDY: Does a happy marriage lead to a healthy heart?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
6/30/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Unmarried women are more likely to die from heart disease, doctors say

There's little question that waking up every morning next to a person you love is good for your health. According to a new study by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, a happy marriage or marital-like relationship may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Analyzing 281 healthy and employed middle-aged adults who were either married or living with a partner in a marital-like relationship, researchers found that positive marital interaction may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Analyzing 281 healthy and employed middle-aged adults who were either married or living with a partner in a marital-like relationship, researchers found that positive marital interaction may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
6/30/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Marriage, heart health, study


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Many studies have investigated the link between marriage and heart health. Medical News Today earlier this year reported on a study suggesting that unmarried women are more likely to die from heart disease. Another study from NYU Langone Medical Center in New York linked marriage to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

There is growing evidence that the quality and patterns of social relationships are linked to an array of health outcomes.

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Study author Thomas Kamarck, professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh Arts and Sciences and his team wanted to determine whether positive or negative marital interactions influence the risk of heart disease.

Analyzing 281 healthy and employed middle-aged adults who were either married or living with a partner in a marital-like relationship, researchers found that positive marital interaction may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Over the course of four days, interactions between participants and their partners were monitored every hour, and participants rated their interactions as positive or negative.

Examined were the thickness of subjects' carotid arteries, which are major blood vessels in the neck that supply the head and neck with oxygenated blood were also measured. Thickening of the carotid arteries can cause them to narrow, which can lead to atherosclerosis, which is a build-up of fatty plaques in the arteries.

The study revealed that participants who reported negative interactions with their partner had thicker carotid arteries. They calculated that these subjects had an 8.5 percent higher risk of developing heart disease, compared with those who reported positive interactions with their partner.

The findings were found consistent across all age groups, races, genders and education levels. The results remained even after accounting for other factors that may influence the risk of heart disease.

"The contribution of this study is in showing that these sorts of links [between marital interactions and CVD] may be observed even during the earliest stages of plaque development, and that these observations may be rooted not just in the way that we evaluate our relationships in general but in the quality of specific social interactions with our partners as they unfold during our daily lives," Kamarck says.

Lead author Nataria Joseph says she believes the implications of the findings reach further than heart disease risk.

"It's another bit of support for the thought that marital or serious romantic relationships play a significant role in overall health," she says. "Biological, psychological, and social processes all interact to determine physical health."

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