Married people are 14 percent likely to survive a heart attack than single or divorced patients, revealed a study presented Wednesday at the Manchester-held British Cardiovascular Society Conference. The study authors believe that marriage itself is not what represents the apparent health benefits, but the mental and physical support that married patients are privileged enough to have.
Of course, the mere fact of being married is not sufficient to have greater chances of surviving a heart attack. Kate Bennett, a psychologist at the University of Liverpool, emphasized that the most important thing for patients’ wellbeing was to be involved in a “stable, loving relationship” based on mutual support, according to The Guardian. She was not involved in the study.
For this investigation, the research team looked at the medical records of 25,000 people who were diagnosed in hospitals in the north of England over the course of thirteen years until March 2013. More than 60 percent were men, and they had an average age of 67.
The worst cases belonged to divorced people, according to the paper. They had a 7 percent higher risk of dying from a heart attack than those who were never married in the first place.
“There seems to be something about divorce and the surrounding circumstances and stresses which has an adverse impact on mortality and, or, the length of stay,” said Nicholas Gollop, a medical research fellow at the University of East Anglia, as quoted by The Guardian.
Gollop remarked that the study was not intended to cause concern among single or divorced people who have experienced a heart attack, but to remind the medical community that providing support to a heart attack survivor could be key regarding outcomes as reported by United Press International.
As for the time people spent recovering in hospital after experiencing a heart attack, Gollop noted that patients who were living with their partner stayed for two days less than single patients, for a total of only six days. Divorced patients remained hospitalized for seven days on average, probably due to the social isolation they had to face.
Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, pointed out the devastating effects a heart attack can have regarding both physical and physiological health, which often are difficult to discuss. He added that a spouse could help reduce the impact of a heart attack on survivors by providing loving support.
The study findings demonstrate how important it is for doctors to care for the patient’s health as a whole, given that those critically ill need to know that they are not alone. Group support and group therapy may be helpful to increase patients’ outcomes following a heart attack, according to Rahul Potluri, founder of the ACALM unit.
Paul Carter, co-director of the ACALM, commented that whereas cardiologists were good at addressing the medical issues related to heart attacks, further work was needed to understand fully the multiple causes that lead some patients to have poorer outcomes.
Knapton also mentioned that taking part in a cardiac rehabilitation course could help patients recover more quickly and meet others who have been through the same painful experience, regardless of whether they are married or not.
Source: The Guardian