Harvard Heart Letter

Married women less likely to succumb to heart disease

Women who live with a spouse or a partner are just as likely as unmarried women to develop heart disease. But married women are a little less likely to die from the disease, a study in BMC Medicine reports.

Researchers tracked more than 730,000 women who were part of a large British study of women's health. After a follow-up of nearly nine years, married women were less likely to die of heart disease, even after accounting for things like age and socioeconomic status, which could have influenced the results. But the absolute difference was small. As the study's lead author explained, the results suggest that over 30 years, about three in 100 married women would die from heart disease compared with about four in 100 women who are not married or living with a partner.

Earlier research has noted a similar trend in men. Experts cite several possible explanations. For example, spouses may encourage their partners to take medication, follow healthy habits, and seek early treatment for symptoms.

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