Why being married could save your life

Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Why being married could save your life

Many men see marriage as the end of their life, but if you've got heart problems it could literally save you.

A new Emory University study has found that married adults who have heart surgery are three times more likely to survive the next three months than single people who undergo the same procedure.

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"That's a dramatic difference in survival rates for single people, during the most critical post-operative recovery period," study leader Ellen Idler says.

"We found that marriage boosted survival whether the patient was a man or a woman."

The research showed the 'protective' effect of marriage lasted for five years after heart surgery, though it slowly declined after the initial three month period.

The findings were the same for both men and women who had heart surgery, and shows just how beneficial the care of a spouse can be to a patient's recovery.

"The findings underscore the important role of spouses as caregivers during health crises," Idler says. "And husbands were apparently just as good at caregiving as wives."

Idler and her team examined more than 500 patients undergoing coronary bypass surgery.

The participants were interviewed before surgery about their marital status and how they predicted they would handle the pain and difficulties of recovery.

Researchers then tracked the survival rates of patients through national death records.

They found that married patients were more likely to live, and more positive about regaining their quality of life, and were confident in their spouse's ability to care for then.

"The married patients had a more positive outlook going into the surgery, compared with the single patients," Idler says.

"When asked whether they would be able to manage the pain and discomfort, or their worries about the surgery, those who had spouses were more likely to say, yes."

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The research was published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

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