A group of University of Pennsylvania scientists find another health benefit of marriage – higher survival rate after heart surgery.

A recently published study suggests that surgeons’ skill and nurses’ care are not enough for a patient to fully recover after heart surgery. It takes a life partner, as well.

According to a research paper published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association married people who underwent heart surgery recover faster than their divorced or single peers.

The study involved about 1,570 patients diagnosed with a heart condition that required cardiac surgery. Volunteers were also questioned on whether they were married, single, divorced or widowed.

The findings revealed that married patients had a 40 percent higher chance of surviving after surgery than unmarried patients. Married patients also had a lower risk of developing a disability two years after the procedure.

Dr. Ashish Shah, a medical doctor at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center who was not involved in the research, said that past studies had also shown that marriage seem to help patients recover better and faster from surgery than single people.

Dr. Shah also said that further research should be able to reveal what exactly makes these people more resilient. He believes that the factors that influence married couples’ well-being could be replicated in non-married patients as well.

Nevertheless, people had known for ages that a caring person can work miracles when it comes to recover from wounds or surgery. And, heart surgeons know that stress can prove detrimental if not fatal to patients after a heart surgery.

Yet, the majority of surgeons believe that their professional skills and dexterity may influence the outcome of their procedures. The new study suggests they should also be interested in what happens with the patient outside hospital, in the intimacy of his or her own home.

Experienced surgeons know this and they follow up their patients and advise them to cut stress and stay away from stressors while recovering. In Dr. Shah’s opinion, non-married people could replace a life partner with a close friend or family member.

Past research also revealed that marriage had hidden health benefits such as lower risk of heart disease and stroke, and a longer life span. Doctors explained that that may have something to do with the feeling of comfort and stability the conjugal condition brings. For instance, married couples are less likely to engage in risky behaviors or substance abuse.



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