March 5, 2009

Bad Marriages = More Heart Attacks

HEALTH - According to a new University of Utah study, women in bad marriages are more prone to heart attacks and obesity.

Bad marriages more wives at risk of a heart attack, but not the husbands, so says Tim Smith, a psychology professor at the University of Utah and one of the study's authors. "Women notice difficulties in a relationship more than men, and are more upset about it," says Smith "Men are sometimes oblivious."

The study found that women in strained marriages are more likely to feel depressed and suffer high blood pressure, obesity around the waistline, high triglycerides and low levels of HDL, the "good" cholesterol.

The husbands also feel a little depressed, but this does not translate into an increased risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes, the study found. Both men and women release the same hormones when under stress, but women pick up on problems in their marriage more than their husbands, and suffer the consequences, says Nancy Henry, the study's lead author. "Women are more relationally oriented," says Henry.

"The men are definitely feeling something, because they get depressed, but that doesn't translate into physical health problems," she says, adding men tend to not define themselves by their marriages as much as women, and as such tend to be more active when depressed.

Other studies have found that separation/divorce can lead to increased levels of coronary disease in both men and women, but once a marriage has deteriorated that much stress-induced health problems are normal. The only solution is to get the divorce over and move on with your life.

The study surveyed 276 couples married an average of 20 years about the positive and negative aspects of their marriages, which were then used to gauge symptoms of marital depression, and monitored their physical health.

Women often don't get diagnosed with heart disease until later, and often its too late.

The researchers are conducting further studies into whether improving a marriage might improve physical health.

See Also:
American Obesity Rates
Obesity in Canada
Obesity in China
i'm fat and lovin' it

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