Marriage is the age old punch line to bad jokes about dying early, before your time. But new studies indicate that, for some, marriage actually extends life and improves outcomes! The study, by Arshed Quyyumi, of Emory University in Atlanta reports that heart disease patients who are unmarried have a higher risk of mortality than their married cohorts in a study of over 6,000 patients undergoing cardiac catheterization for CAD
Compared with patients who were married, those who were unmarried had a higher risk of all-cause mortality. Similarly, those patients who were divorced and separated had a higher risk profile than their still-married counterparts. Even after adjustment for other risk factors like prescription medicines and socioeconomic risk factors, the differences remained significant.
Study director, Quyyumi said:
“I was somewhat surprised by the magnitude of the influence of being married has on heart patients. It indicates that the social support provided by marriage, and perhaps other benefits of companionship, are important for people with heart disease.”
In this retrospective study, marital status was derived from a questionnaire at baseline of patients presenting with an AMI The group consisted of the following:
- Married 4,088
- Unmarried 1,963
- Never married 451
- Divorced or separated 842
- Widowed 670
Follow-up data was collected during a follow-up phone interview, electronic health record review, Social Security Death Index, and other state records.
More Aggressive Treatment for Unmarried Patients?
While further investigation is needed to determine if more aggressive treatment strategies could influence outcomes for unmarried patients.
“Accounting for unmarried status in the management of patients with CAD, consideration of associated psychological conditions, and potentially more aggressive follow-up and therapy need to be considered in future studies,” wrote the study authors.
The researchers also listed the study limitations which included the retrospective analysis, single-center study, and lack of follow-up regarding continued marital status.
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