According to new research out of the University of Pennsylvania, married people are more likely to survive heart surgery — findings which offer further evidence of marriage’s connection to heart health. The Ivy League researchers behind the study, which was published in the journal JAMA Surgery, examined the health and survival rates of over 1,500 adults–all 50 and older–who had undergone cardiac surgery. In their analysis, the researchers found those who were separated, widowed or divorced to be 40 percent more likely to develop a new disability or die within the first couple of years following surgery.
The researchers noted that their findings are in line with prior research that points towards increased heart surgery survival rates for those that are married. Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum with Lenox Hill Hospital’s Women’s Heart Health, who was not involved with the U-Penn study, told Live Science as having said that the study’s findings indicate that “at the end of the day, we have to put an emphasis on the intangible when it comes to wellness and health.” Steinbaum also noted to Live Science that prior research shows “that social support itself is critical for heart health, and being socially isolated is a risk factor for heart disease.”
Sixty-five percent of the cardiac surgery patients assessed in the study were married while only 12 percent were separated or divorced. A small percentage, just 2 percent, were never married and the remaining 21 percent had been widowed. Additional research is required to explore the mechanisms which may offer explanation for the link seen between personal marital status and increased survival rates for cardiac surgery patients, according to the researchers. In other news, a terminally ill man married his fiancee in a bedside ceremony held at New York’s Good Samaritan Hospital earlier this year.