A Man's Health May Rely on Health of His Marriage

From Drugs.com - October 9, 2017

A Man's Health May Rely on Health of His Marriage

MONDAY, Oct. 9, 2017 -- As marriage ebbs and flows, so might the health of your heart, at least for men.

A new British study of married fathers found real -- if small -- effects on such cardiovascular risk factors as cholesterol levels, body weight and blood pressure that corresponded to improvement or deterioration in the men's marriages.

Those whose marriages seemed to be improving fared better, while the reverse was true for men in worsening marriages.

"An apparent link between marriage and health is a consistent finding across many studies, going back as far as 1912," said Dr. Ian Bennett-Britton. He's the study's lead author and a research fellow at the University of Bristol in England.

"What's not been clear is whether this is simply a reflection of healthier and wealthier people getting married or a true protective effect of the marriage itself," he added.

Marriage researcher Dr. Rahul Potluri, a cardiologist with Aston University in Birmingham, England, said that "the evidence so far suggests that married couples and perhaps happier couples are more inclined to look after each other, which may have a direct impact on cardiovascular risk factors and cardiovascular disease."

For the new study, Bennett-Britton and his colleagues surveyed 620 married fathers about their relationships, and then tracked the men for about 19 years.

"We found little change in cardiovascular risk factors for those whose relationships were consistently good or bad," Bennett-Britton said. "But we found a more consistent pattern for those whose relationships had either improved or deteriorated during the study period, with respective improvements and worsening in cardiovascular risk profile."

Compared with men in "consistently good" relationships, those whose relationships had improved had slightly lower levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, the so-called "bad" type. They also had a slightly lower body mass index, a measurement of body fat based on height and weight, the findings showed.

"Weaker links were found with improved total cholesterol and improved blood pressure," Bennett-Britton said.

On the other hand, the investigators found that men in deteriorating relationships had slightly worse blood pressure than those in stable, good relationships. Their diastolic blood pressure, the bottom number in a reading, was, on average, about 3 points higher.

The researchers reached these numbers after adjusting their statistics to account for variable factors, such as wealth and age.

Though the possible individual impact of the findings may be small, Bennett-Britton said they could add up to quite a gain in the entire population.

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