Is marriage good for the heart? -Sun Media

According to one study, married adults are three times more likely than single adults to recover from heart surgery. (Shutterstock)

 

Sexy typewriter, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

Could saying “I do!” be the best thing you could ever do for your ticker?

A new study from the American Sociological Association claims married people stand a better chance of recovering from heart surgery and surviving in the long-term than those who are unmarried.

According to the study, married adults are three times more likely than single adults to recover from heart surgery.

“We found that marriage boosted survival whether the patient was a man or a woman,” says sociologist Ellen Idler of Atlanta’s Emory University in a statement from the American Sociological Association.

Call it the “strong protective effect of marriage.”

The study also shows patients who survived more than three months after surgery were approximately 70% more likely to die within the next five years if they were single.

What, then, is to become of all the single ladies…and gentlemen?

Bella DePaulo is not particularly concerned. The author of Singled Out: How Singles are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After and Singlism: What It Is, Why It Matters and How To Stop It has heard this kind of talk before and finds it unconvincing.

“We don’t know if the married people differed from the (single) people even before they married,” says DePaulo. “If they did, then marriage may have had nothing to do with the results.

Take smoking, for example,” she says. “The press release says that married people probably smoked less because their spouse ‘controlled’ that behaviour — probably code for the suggestion that wives nagged their husbands until they quit.

“But – as the authors admit in passing in the published article – they have no way of knowing whether the people who got married and stayed married were already less likely to be smokers when they were single. If so, a nagging spouse is irrelevant,” DePaulo says.

The authors of the study, DePaulo points out, admit that once the differences in smoking rates are taken into account, there are no longer any significant long-term differences in survival between the currently married and the currently unmarried.

“Another factor that is routinely included in studies like this but was not included in this study is financial means,” DePaulo says. “There was no measure of income or wealth or even access to health insurance or quality of health insurance. Largely, as a result of so much discrimination, unmarried people are generally less well off financially than married people are.

“Maybe they could not afford to fill all of their prescriptions or see doctors as often. Maybe they were less likely to have generous health care plans – or any health insurance at all,” DePaulo says.

It’s also worth considering that those in stressful or emotionally and mentally damaging marriages are, in all likelihood, less healthy in the long-term. The ASA’s study does not say whether or not those in their sample groups were happily married. It would be fascinating to see this same study repeated with those who report a less-than-satisfying married life.

DePaulo says what singles really need is to have the same quality of care from physicians as married people, the same financial resources and the same access to health insurance (this is an American study). And maybe those are the factors that really matter, more so than marriage.

In sickness or in health, overall life satisfaction is likely what urges people keep on keeping on. Marriage may play a part. But, as DePaulo points out, it very well may not.

It’s best to not allow this talk of married people living longer and healthier lives to prompt you to take a walk down the aisle. That is, unless your heart is really in it.

Sexy Typewriter blogs about her dating failures – online and otherwise – at Sexytypewriter.com