Married people may be better at managing risk factors for heart disease

7 June 2017        

Category: Research

Wedding ring and heart shaped ribbon

Britons living with any of the three biggest risk factors for heart disease have higher survival rates if they are married, according to research presented today at the British Cardiovascular Society conference in Manchester.

Researchers based at Aston Medical School, Birmingham, studied the survival of people who had the three main risk factors for heart disease - high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. They used a database of over one million patients, making it one of the largest studies of its kind.

Married patients had higher survival rates

The results found that people with high cholesterol were 16 per cent more likely to be alive at the end of the study if they were married. The same was true for diabetes and high blood pressure, with married people having 14 per cent and 10 per cent higher survival respectively compared to those who were single.

Support of a spouse

While the link is not fully understood, the researchers believe that the support offered by a spouse may be a key factor behind the improved survival. In particular, the researchers suspect that people are better at managing these risk factors when they have the help of a loved one.

The data for this new research comes from the Algorithm for Comorbidities, Associations, Length of stay and Mortality (ACALM) study, which includes over a million hospital patients in the United Kingdom from between January 2000 and March 2013.

Call upon your loved ones

Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, said:

“The relationships we develop are not only important for our well-being and a living fulfilling life, but it seems marriage is associated with a longer life too.

“The take-home message is that our social interactions, as well as medical risk factors such as high blood pressure, are important determinants of both our health and well-being.

“Whether you are married or not, if you have any of the main risk factors for heart disease then you can call upon loved ones to help you to manage them. You can also speak to your GP or the BHF’s Heart Helpline for advice and support.”