Is Marriage Good for Your Heart?

Dr. Sharon Orrange
Dr. Orrange is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
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If you have heart failure, you’ll live longer if you have a spouse around. That’s what we learned from a study presented at the annual meetings of the American College of Cardiology. Marital status plays an underappreciated role in heart failure prognosis.

Having a life partner was associated with a 12% reduction in mortality or hospitalization. Authors of this study were looking at folks with moderate to severe heart failure and whether marital status, education level, or economic status made a difference in life expectancy.

Turns out 61% of the people with heart failure had a life partner, and those with a partner had a 12% lower risk of death or hospitalization. Income and education level did not have a significant impact. Interesting.

Let’s guess at why we think this is. Management of heart failure is complicated, and fatigue is a common complaint. Having someone at home to make sure (nag) that you are taking your medications appropriately is important, as is the fact that your life partner can come with you to doctors visits and be a second set of ears. Life partners, by helping you negotiate your medications and doctor visits, are good for your heart.

Dr O.

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