Being happily married helps heart patients live longer

Washington: A new study from the University of Rochester has found that happily wedded people who undergo coronary bypass surgery are more than three times as likely to be alive 15 years later as their unmarried counterparts.

“There is something in a good relationship that helps people stay on track,” stated Kathleen King professor emerita from the School of Nursing at the University of Rochester and lead author on the study.

Co-author Harry Reis, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester added, “in fact, the effect of marital satisfaction is “every bit as important to survival after bypass surgery as more traditional risk factors like tobacco use, obesity, and high blood pressure.”

But the marriage advantage plays out differently for men and women.

For men, marriage in general is linked to higher survival rates and the more satisfying the marriage, the higher the rate of survival.

For women, the quality of the relationship is even more important. While unhappy marriages provide virtually no survival bonus for women, satisfying unions increase a woman’s survival rate almost fourfold, the study found.

The researchers tracked 225 people who had bypass surgery between 1987 and 1990.

Fifteen years after surgery, 83 percent of happily wedded wives were still alive, versus 28 percent of women in unhappy marriages and 27 percent of unmarried women.

The survival rate for contented husbands was also 83 percent, but even the not so happily married fared well.

The study has been published online August 22 in Health Psychology, a publication of the American Psychological Association.


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