Unmarried patients were 45% more likely to die from heart disease than married patients.
Marriage has been found to have a positive impact on outcomes for a number of conditions, including cancer, while divorce is associated with an increased risk of death overall.
New research published by the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that unmarried patients with heart disease may have a higher rate of mortality compared with married patients.
Previously, few studies have examined the link between cardiovascular outcomes and marital status among patients with coronary artery disease. The authors of the current study report that this research is the first to show poor patient outcomes among those who are divorced, separated, widowed, or were never married.
Included in the new study were 6051 patients who underwent a cardiac catheterization for coronary artery disease. Patients were followed for 3.7 years, during which time there were 1085 deaths.
The authors discovered that being unmarried was linked to a 24% increased risk of all-cause mortality compared with being married, according to the study.
Unmarried patients were also 45% more likely to die from heart disease and had a 52% increased risk of experiencing cardiovascular death or a heart attack compared with married patients, according to the study.
The authors also found that the risk of cardiovascular death or heart attack was 40% higher for patients who were never married, 41% higher among divorced or separated patients, and 71% higher for those whose spouse died.
Unmarried patients were more likely to be female and black, and have hypertension, heart failure, or high cholesterol compared with married patients, according to the study. Patients who were unmarried were also less likely to smoke.
These findings suggest that marital status may be an important factor for physicians to consider when treating patients with coronary artery disease, according to the authors.
The authors report that further studies should explore potential psychological conditions linked to being unmarried and the need for more aggressive treatment among these patients.
“I was somewhat surprised by the magnitude of the influence of being married has (on heart patients),” said lead researcher Arshed Quyyumi, MD. “Social support provided by marriage, and perhaps many other benefits of companionship, are important for people with heart disease.”