In a recent study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, researchers concluded that ups and downs in the quality of marital relationships can significantly affect men’s heart health. It had already been shown that marriage leads to longer life and fewer health risks. This study, which analyzed data collected over 19 years, now shows that the quality of the marital relationship over time affects men’s cardiovascular health at varying times and in the long run.
The study chose to study men in particular as there is a greater cardiovascular risk in men over women as they age. Data was taken on the quality of their relationships in addition to physical measurements such as blood pressure, resting heart rate, body mass index, blood fat profile, and fasting glucose levels. Other factors were taken into consideration in this study, such as, height, weight, age, education, and income.
Marriages that tend to be relatively positive and stable were likely to resist stress better than marriages that are consistently unpleasant. However, marriages that are up and down tend to create more stress and thus increase risk factors for heart disease in men. Men tend to be less likely to seek medical attention when they believe that certain symptoms are not serious enough. It is often the wife who insists that her husband go to a primary medical care center or urgent care clinic when symptoms are still early.
The researchers admit that there are gaps in this study and that further investigation is definitely warranted: “For instance, this is an observational study so it cannot prove cause and effect. Also, there were a large number of participants who dropped out across the duration of the study, and, of course, it only looked at men.” One thing is for sure, regular visits to primary medical care centers and urgent care clinics can lead to early detection of health risks and treatment and prevention of illnesses that can affect heart health for both men and women.
Written by Shelly-Ann Parkinson