Vitality

Benefits Of Marriage 2016: Better Stroke Recovery And 3 Other Health Conditions Being Married Can Alleviate

They may forget to take out the trash, drop crumbs when they eat, or snore loudly at night, but your spouse could be saving your life. Married couples tend to have better physical health, psychological well-being, and even a lower mortality rate. Now, researchers at Duke University have found new and improved benefits of marriage in 2016 — it can boost your survival rate after a stroke.

"Our research is the first to show that current and past marital experiences can have significant consequences for one's prognosis after a stroke," said Matthew E. Dupre, lead author of the study and associate professor in the Department of Community and Family Medicine and the Clinical Research Institute at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, in a statement.

Read: How Getting Married Increases Your Lifespan

The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found the risks of dying after a stroke were 71 percent greater for adults who never married than for adults who were continuously married. Patients who were divorced or widowed face a 23 percent and 25 percent greater risk of death, respectively, than those who've never divorced. Risk of dying after a stroke was 39 and 40 percent greater, respectively, for those who were divorced or widowed more than once compared to their continuously married counterparts.

The findings did not show evidence of a significant difference between men and women or by race or ethnicity.

The researchers concluded multiple marital losses in one's lifetime were especially detrimental to recovery, regardless of the patient's current marital status. Moreover, the researchers found remarriage did not reduce the risks linked with past divorce or widowhood.

The study solely focused on adults who survived to hospital discharge, and not those who died shortly after having a stroke. The sample included over 2,300 adults aged 41 and older, who reported a stroke from 1992 to 2010, and were observed for an average of 5.3 years over the 18-year study period.

These findings have clinical implications, implying marital life and marital loss does play an influential role in health conditions and recovery. Risk factors associated with stroke, such as high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes, are well known, as are the factors related to recovering from stroke and improving survival, such as access to quality healthcare, reducing risk factors, and adhering to treatment plans. However, social support, such as marriage, could have a significant impact on the treatment of heart disease. Knowledge about risks associated with marital status could lead to better personalized care, and improved outcomes for those who are recovering from a stroke, according to the statement. 

Read: Married Individuals Have Better Recovery After Undergoing Heart Procedure

In 2016, recent research also found new protective effects of marriage when it comes to our health.

Couple getting married A better stroke survival rate, and 3 other health conditions marriage can alleviate. Photo courtesy of Pexels, Public Domain

Married Cancer Patients Live Longer

Cancer is a devastating disease that can leave patients feeling helpless and alone. A study in Cancer found unmarried patients have a higher death rate than married couples; unmarried male and female patients had a 27 percent and 19 percent death rate, respectively. Moreover, researchers found the protective effects of marriage on cancer survival also differed across racial and ethnic groups. Among men and women, Whites benefited the most from being married, while Latinos and Asian Pacific Islanders benefited the least. However, Latinos and Asian/Pacific Islander cancer patients born in the U.S. had a greater benefit than those born outside the country.

The researchers suggest the protective effects of marriage are more likely linked to emotional security. Greater social support and less social isolation among married patients is what's likely behind their higher survival rate post-cancer. It seems unmarried patients could benefit from getting a little more support. 

Married People More Likely To Survive Heart Attacks; Shorter Hospital Stays

Marriage is good for the heart — at least according to researchers at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. The study found married people were 14 percent less likely to die after a heart attack than single people. They were also more likely to be discharged from a hospital two days sooner than single people, which can lower a patient’s risk of hospital-acquired infections such as bloodstream infection (BSI), pneumonia, and urinary tract infection.

Single heart attack patients should not be alarmed. Rather, these findings serve as a reminder to the medical community of the importance of physical and emotional support of patients in recovery. Married individuals have resources, like their spouse, to help them cope. Doctors should consider suggesting psychosocial and coping resources for heart attack patients before discharge.

Married People With Type 2 Diabetes Are Less Overweight

Marriage may protect type 2 diabetes patients from being overweight. Married men also receive an additional benefit — a lower risk of suffering from metabolic syndrome, which increases susceptibility to heart disease and stroke. The study conducted by Japanese researchers from Yokohama City University Graduate School of Medicine and Chigasaki Municipal Hospital found among type 2 diabetes patients, those who are married have a lower body mass index (BMI) at 24.5 compared to single patients at 26.5. The likelihood of metabolic syndrome was higher for the single people (68 percent) as opposed to the married people (54 percent). Overall, married people were 50 percent less likely to be overweight.

While there was no significant difference in the weight aspect for both genders, the study found that married men were at a 58 percent lower risk of metabolic syndrome than single men. For women, however, there was no link.

It seems like there's some science to the marriage vows of being there "in sickness and in health."

Source: Dupre ME and Lopes RD. Marital History and Survival After Stroke. Journal of the American Heart Association. 2016.

See Also:

Stable Marriages Linked To Better Bone Health In Men

Interracial Couples May Make Taller, Smarter Children

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