Happy Marriage Aids Heart Attack Recovery

In general, having less stress is associated with improved heart health. Now, a sizable study demonstrates that individuals who suffer a heart attack at a relatively young age—younger than 55—are more likely to recover if they had a less stressful, happier marriage.

In the year following a heart attack, people who had the most stressful marriages were more likely to experience more frequent chest pain or to require hospital readmission.

According to their research, those who are in stressful marriages recover from heart attacks more slowly than other heart attack survivors of same age, sex, education, income, employment, and insurance status.

According to Cenjing Zhu, a PhD candidate at the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, CT, “I would advise young cardiac patients that stress in their marriage or partnered relationship may adversely effect their recovery after a heart attack.” During the healing process, “controlling personal stress may be as crucial as managing other clinical risk factors,” such as blood pressure, for example.

Everyone should be aware of their risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, or smoking, adds Zhu. Younger people should also be aware of any family history of heart disease, especially premature heart disease.

Nieca Goldberg, MD, an AHA representative who was not involved in this study, states that “patients should realise there is a correlation between marital stress and delayed recovery” following heart attack.

According to Goldberg, a clinical associate professor of medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and the medical director of Atria New York City, “If they have marital stress, they should share the information with their doctor and discuss ways to get a referral to therapists and cardiac rehabilitation.”

My last observation is that women have frequently been advised by physicians that stress is to blame for their heart symptoms, the author says. “Now that we are aware of how stress affects physical health, it is no longer a justification but rather a factor in our physical health,”

Anxious Marriage

According to many research, psychological stress is associated with poorer outcomes for heart health, according to Zhu.

The impact of a strained marriage on younger heart attack survivors, however, was poorly understood.

The researchers examined participant data from the study Variation in Recovery: Gender Effects on Young AMI Patients’ Outcomes (VIRGO).

1,020 women out of 1,593 adults who were treated at 103 hospitals throughout 30 U.S. states were included in this. The majority of these heart attack survivors were married, and 8% were cohabitating or living as married people.

90% of the group was under the age of 40. They were 47 on average. There were 73% white people, 13% Black people, and 7% Latino people.

They responded to 17 questions in the Stockholm Marital Stress Scale about the strength of their emotional and sexual relationships with their partners/spouses one month after their heart attack. The patients then responded to many health questionnaires one year after their heart attack.

In comparison to patients with moderate or mild marital stress, those who reported severe marital stress had considerably lower scores for their physical and mental health, overall quality of life, and quality of life connected to their heart health a year later.

Compared to individuals with minimal or mild marital stress, heart attack survivors with the most marital stress were 49% more likely to report more regular chest pain/angina and 45% more likely to have been readmitted to hospital for any reason.

The fact that the results of the study are dependent on self-reported questionnaires is one of its weaknesses.

The relationship between these factors calls for more research, according to Zhu. “Additional stressors outside marital stress, such as financial hardship or professional stress, may potentially play a role in young people’ recovery.”

The American Heart Association (AHA) 2022 Scientific Sessions are being place this weekend in Chicago, and the researchers will report their findings there.

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