Marriage is good for the heart


Being married could improve your likelihood of surviving a myocardial infarction and is associated with reduced length of hospital stay, according to research presented at the British Cardiovascular Society (BCS) conference (6–8 June, Manchester, UK). Researchers found that married people were 14% less likely to die after a myocardial infarction than single people. Married people were also, on average, likely to spend two fewer days in hospital than single people.

According to a press release, the study was performed by the ACALM (Algorithm for Comorbidities, Associations, Length of stay and Mortality) Study Unit. The algorithm has compiled a one million patient dataset using Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data from the North of England. Researchers studied over 25,000 patients with a heart attack diagnosis that took place between January 2000 and March 2013.

It is not clear from this research why married people are more likely to survive a myocardial infarction but the researchers feel the findings emphasise the importance of physical and emotional support after the event. Although previous studies have linked marriage to improved myocardial infarction outcomes, this is the first study to suggest that marital status affects how quickly myocardial infarction patients are discharged.

The researchers feel the results show the need for doctors to consider the psychosocial effects of a myocardial infarction, and consider them as a risk factor, when treating and managing the discharge of a patient. Nicholas D Gollop, clinical research fellow in Cardiology and presenting author from the University of East Anglia, says: “Our results should not be a cause for concern for single people who have had a heart attack. But they should certainly be a reminder to the medical community of the importance of considering the support a heart attack survivor will get once they are discharged.”

The researchers hope to expand the ACALM dataset in future studies, where they will look at longer term outcomes and consider the impact of marital status on other heart conditions such as heart failure and also evaluate the impact of potential interventions such as cardiac rehab.