Marital Status Influences Heart Disease Risk

Written by Dr. Ahmed Zayed
Marital Status Influences Heart Disease Risk

The prevalence of heart disease across the globe keeps growing and it is usually associated with unhealthy lifestyle. Lack of physical activity and consumption of foods that have little to no nutritional value contribute to weight gain, high blood pressure, and other risk factors that pave the way to heart diseases.

Different factors could enhance one’s odds of developing the heart-related condition, but chances are you’ve never thought your marital status matters too. The latest study shows unmarried people face a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases than their married counterparts.

Marital Status And Heart Disease

Although we like to think that the relationship status of an individual doesn’t really matter (and it doesn’t in social life), it exhibits a significant influence on overall health. For many years, it has been shown that single or unmarried status is associated with reduced survival. That being said, the relationship between heart disease and being married, divorced, separated, never-married, or widowed has never been discussed.

A team of scientists led by Dr. Ashred Quyyumi at the Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia carried out a research whose main objective was to uncover the impact of marital status on heart disease risk. They enrolled 6051 participants who were followed for 3.7 years on average, but some participants were also followed 1.7 or 6.7 years.

The mean age of participants was 63 and 64% of them were male. All participants had a suspected or confirmed coronary artery disease. They had undergone a diagnostic procedure that checks heart functioning called cardiac catheterization. In addition, participants were asked to complete a questionnaire that contained questions about their relationship or marital status.

The Journal of the American Heart Association[1] published results of the study which showed that 70% of patients were confirmed to have heart blockages or obstructive coronary artery disease after the cardiac catheterization. Only 8% had a heart attack. A statistical analysis revealed that unmarried participants were at a higher risk of dying due to heart disease during the follow-up period.

How Big Is The Risk Of Heart Disease In Unmarried People?

Marital Status Influences Heart Disease

The analysis of answers to questionnaire revealed that 68% of participants were married, 14% divorced or separated, 11% widowed, and 7% of men and women who took part in the study never married.

Being unmarried increased[2] the risk of all-cause death by 24% and it elevated the risk of death due to cardiovascular disease by 45%. Additionally, unmarried people were also 52% more likely to die due to a heart attack.

Not all unmarried participants had the same risk of heart disease and death. The risk was the highest for widowed individuals (71%), followed by separated or divorced (41%), and never-married persons (40%).

The unmarried participants were more likely to be African-American women with high cholesterol, hypertension, heart failure, and they were less likely to be active smokers.

Interestingly, these risks remained the same even after scientists took into consideration other parameters such as socioeconomic status, medication use, and severity of the disease. Based on these findings, scientists suggest clinicians should take a patient’s marital status into account when determining the adequate treatment for heart disease.


A growing body of evidence confirms that relationship status influences one’s overall health and wellbeing. Data about the relationship between heart disease and marital status was lacking, which inspired scientists to conduct a study to shed more light on this topic.

Scientists discovered that unmarried individuals were more likely to have heart disease and die due to cardiovascular-related causes. Widowed persons had the highest risk of all unmarried people. These findings suggest clinical should consider a patient’s marital status while deciding the best approach to manage their heart disease.

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Contributor : Dr. Ahmed Zayed ()

This Article Has Been Published on December 25, 2017 and Last Modified on December 11, 2018

Dr. Ahmed Zayed Helmy holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree in 2011 at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. Other than his passion for writing, currently he is working as a Plastic surgeon and is doing his masters at Ain Shams University. You can connect with him on Linkedin.

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