Marriage linked to lower heart risks in study of more than 3.5 million adults
Date: March 28, 2014
Source: American College of Cardiology
People who are married have lower rates of several cardiovascular diseases compared with those who are single, divorced or widowed, according to research to be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 63rd Annual Scientific Session. The relationship between marriage and lower odds of vascular diseases is especially pronounced before age 50.
"These findings certainly shouldn't drive people to get married, but it's important to know that decisions regarding who one is with, why, and why not may have important implications for vascular health," said Carlos L. Alviar M.D., cardiology fellow, New York University Langone Medical Center, and the lead investigator of the study.
Alviar said that while earlier, smaller studies reported similar findings, the size of this study, as well as the ability to consider four different vascular diseases -- peripheral artery disease, cerebrovascular disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm and coronary artery disease -- and to discriminate between various types of marital status makes this research different from anything that's previously been done.
"We are able to take a better look at a spectrum of relationships," Alviar said.
Researchers prospectively analyzed records from a database of more than 3.5 million people nationwide who were evaluated for cardiovascular diseases. Patients' demographic information and cardiovascular risk factors were obtained, and researchers estimated the odds of disease by marital status after analyzing the presence of vascular disease in different blood vessel locations such as the coronary arteries, leg arteries, carotids and the abdominal aorta. Traditional cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, smoking and obesity were similar to the overall U.S. population, according to authors. Participants' ages ranged from 21 to 102 years old, with the average age of 64, and 63 percent were female. Overall, 69.1 percent (2.4 million) were married, 13 percent (477,577) were widowed, 8.3 percent (292,670) were single; 9 percent (319,321) were divorced.
After adjusting for age, sex, race and other cardiovascular risk factors, researchers found marital status was independently associated with cardiovascular disease. These findings were consistent for both men and women across the four conditions.
In particular, married people were 5 percent less likely to have any vascular disease compared with singles. They also had 8 percent, 9 percent and 19 percent lower odds of abdominal aortic aneurysm, cerebrovascular disease and peripheral arterial disease, respectively. The odds of coronary disease were lower in married subjects compared with those who were widowed and divorced, but this was not statistically significant when compared to single subjects, which were used as the reference group for comparison.
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