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Single or Divorced People have a higher risk of Death from Heart Surgery than Married People, Study Finds

Update Date: Oct 28, 2015 04:37 PM EDT
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Being married can be good for your heart.

According to a recent study, single or divorced people are 40 percent more likely to die after undergoing heart surgery than married people. People without spouses also had a greater risk of developing a disability two years after their surgery.

For the study, the researchers had examined data taken from 1,576 patients who underwent cardiac surgery. The patients were a part of the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study, which involved nearly 30,000 adults over the age of 50 since 1998.

During the study's time frame, 65 percent of the patients were married, 21 percent were widowed, 12 percent were divorced/separated and two percent had never been married.

After the surgery, the team found that 19 percent of the married patients ended up dying or developing a new disability that impeded on their life. The rate of death or disability was 29 percent in divorced or separated people, 34 percent in widowers and 20 percent in single people.

The researchers believe that having a wife or husband by one's side can drastically improve one's outcome. Not only do spouses provide emotional support, they are also there to help out with the recovery process.

"These findings extend prior work...suggesting postoperative survival advantages for married people and may relate to the role of social supports in influencing patients' choices of hospitals and their self-care," Professor Mark Neuman, of the University of Pennsylvania, said. "They add that their findings suggest that marital status is a predictor of survival and functional recovery after cardiac surgery. Further research is needed to define the mechanisms linking marital status and postoperative outcomes."

The study was published in JAMA Surgery.

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