London: Married people are less prone to heart attacks than those who are single and more likely to recover from a stroke, according to a new study.
A large population-based Finnish study has shown that being unmarried increases the risk of fatal and non-fatal heart attack in both men and women whatever their age.
Researchers say, especially among middle-aged couples, being married and cohabiting are associated with "considerably better prognosis of acute cardiac events both before hospitalisation and after reaching the hospital alive."
The study, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, was based on the FINAMI myocardial infarction register data from the years 1993 to 2002.
The study included information on people over the age of 35 living in four geographical regions of Finland. All fatal and non-fatal cardiac events - known as "acute cardiac syndromes," ACS - were included and cross-referred to the population database.
"Our aim was to study the differences in the morbidity and prognosis of incident acute coronary syndromes according to socio-demographic characteristics (marital status and household size)," said researchers.
The register recorded 15,330 ACS events over the study period of ten years, with just over half (7703) resulting in death within 28 days.
Events occurred almost equally among men and women. However, the analysis also showed that the age-standardised incidences of these ACS events were approximately 58-66 per cent higher among unmarried men and 60-65 percent higher in unmarried women, than among married men and women in all age groups.
The differences in 28-day mortality rate were even greater. These were found to be 60-168 per cent higher in unmarried men and 71-175 percent higher in unmarried women, than among married men and women.
For instance, in 65-74-year-old married men was 866 per 100,000 persons per year but 1792 per 100,000 per year in unmarried men. This rate did not differ according to previous marital status.
Similarly, mortality rates among 65-74-year old married women were 247 per 100,000 persons per year, but 493 per 100,000 when the woman was unmarried.
"Married people may be better off, have better health habits, and enjoy higher levels of social support than the unmarried, which will all promote their overall health," said researchers.