Marriage can mean many different things to a couple. A partnership and lifelong commitment to support a loved one; the foundation to start building a new life and family; two best friends tied together; to mark the true understandings of trust and compromise or perhaps to legalise something special that is already there. It can be agreed that marriage emotionally enriches the heart in many ways and a new study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine found that there are health benefits to marriage too.
A happy marriage or marital-like relationship may reduce the chances of cardiovascular issues, according to researchers from the University of Pittsburgh. Study authors; Thomas Kamarck a professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh and Kenneth P. Dietrich at the School of Arts and Sciences, believe there is increasing evidence to suggest that the quality and patterns of social relationships are linked to many health outcomes, in particular cardiovascular issues.
Professor Kamarck said: “The contribution of this study is showing that these sorts of links [between marital interactions and cardiovascular health] may be observed even during the earliest stages of plaque development; and that these observations may be rooted, not just in the way that we evaluate our relationships in general, however in the quality of specific social interactions with our partners as they unfold during our daily lives.”
His team investigated into the effect of positive marital interactions and cardiovascular issues. The investigation analysed 281 healthy and employed middle-aged adults, who were either married or living with a partner in a marital-like relationship. Interactions between participants and their partners were monitored every hour over four days, and participants rated how positive they found their interactions.
In order to keep monitoring their cardiovascular heath, the thickness of the subjects’ carotid arteries were measured. Carotid arteries are major blood vessels in the neck that supply the head and neck with oxygenated blood and are very important for good cardiovascular health. Thickening can lead to atherosclerosis and increase the likelihood of other cardiovascular issues.
The results concluded that participants who reported positive interactions with their partner had a smaller chance of thicker carotid arteries. They calculated that the subjects without positive interactions had an 8.5% higher chance of developing cardiovascular issues. The team also noted that these findings were consistent across all age groups, genders, races, education levels and other factors that may influence cardiovascular health.
Leading author, Nataria Joseph, believes findings could stem even further then that of just cardiovascular issues. She said: “It’s another bit of support for the thought that marital or serious romantic relationships play a significant role in our overall health. Biological, psychological and social processes all interact to determine physical health.”
There have been many studies investigating the link between marriage and heart health with varying results. Medical News Today have previously reported that married women were less likely to succumb to heart issues and another study from NYU Langone Medical Center linked marriage to a reduced chance of cardiovascular issues. A 2013 study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, also suggested that people who are married when they are diagnosed with cancer are likely to live longer.
Marriage can mean many different things to a couple, and, as studies show, better cardiovascular health and a stronger heart are a few more to add to the list.
What does other healthy aspects are there to marriage ?