Being in a long-term relationship can have positive health benefits
By Katrina Caruso
Marriage can lead to a longer, healthier life. According to a recently published study, married people were less likely to develop cardiovascular disease (CVD) or to experience a heart attack or stoke. The results appeared in June in the British Cardiovascular Society’s journal Heart.
Researchers reviewed 34 studies involving more than two million people between the ages of 42 and 77 and found that, compared with married people, those who had never married or were divorced or widowed had a 42% higher risk of developing CVD and a 16% higher risk for coronary artery heart disease. Unmarried people were 42% more likely to die from coronary heart disease and 55% more likely to be killed by a stroke. Divorced people were 35% more likely to develop CVD than were married people, and widowed people were 16% more at risk of having a stroke.
Marital status had no effect on the risk of dying after a stroke, but among those who had had a heart attack, never-marrieds had a 42% higher risk of dying.
Another study, published in 2017 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, which followed participants over 16 years, showed that marriage was linked to people’s weight and cholesterol levels: people in happy marriages were more likely to have lower cholesterol levels and be within a healthier weight range. However, the researchers also noticed that if the marriage went south, the participants’ health did, too.
While researchers couldn’t state definitively why marriage seems to confer health benefits, they did point to a few likely reasons, including better well-being: married people have companionship and a close connection with at least one other person, and loneliness has been demonstrated to be bad for you. In addition, married people are likely to spot each other’s health problems and to ensure that a partner takes his or her medication.