Happy Marriage Equals Happy Heart

Happily married spouses live longer after coronary bypass surgery

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Marriage is more than just a union of two people – it’s a life saver. People who are happily married live longer than those who are not married. This is especially true for women.

Researchers found a happy marriage is beneficial to people who have undergone coronary bypass surgery. Before coronary bypass surgery was a miracle cure for heart disease, but it takes more than just a miracle to keep people alive.

"It takes work to make a marriage work."

Lead author, Kathleen King, Ph.D., professor emerita from the School of Nursing at the University of Rochester, found that spouses were three times more likely to live 15 years after coronary bypass surgery than unmarried people.

More specifically fifteen years after the bypass surgery, 83 percent of happily wedded wives were still alive compared to 28 percent of unhappily married women and 27 percent of unmarried wives.

Similar results were seen for men except men who were not so satisfied with their marriages had a 60 percent survival rate. This was still better than those who were not married who had a 36 percent rate.

The study included 225 men and women who had bypass surgery between 1987 and 1990. The participants were asked to rate their relationships one year after the surgery. Other factors that could affect survival rate were accounted for which included age, sex, education, tobacco use, and depression.

Supportive spouses encourage healthier lifestyles like exercising or smoking cessation which can help patients live longer lives, King believes. Couples who are happy with their marriage are motivated to keep kicking so they can stick around longer with for and with their loved ones, King says.

The research is published in Healthy Psychology, a publication of the American Psychological Association.

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Review Date: 
August 22, 2011
Last Updated:
August 23, 2011