With an average of 2.4 million weddings performed in the United States every year, this time-old practice surely brings us love and compassion. But could tying the knot actually be good for our health?
A new British study suggests that getting hitched may be beneficial for your heart — literally.
BBC reports that researchers at Aston Medical School studied almost a million people in the UK with high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes. They found that the patients who were married had a better chance of surviving these heart health risks than the single patients.
According to BBC, the research team looked at deaths caused by these heart risk factors. They found that the patients in their 50s, 60s, and 70s were more likely to survive these conditions if they were married. Paul Carter, who led the study, said in a statement to BBC that while they saw a correlation between marriage and health, they did not determine a specific cause.
“We need to unpick the underlying reasons a bit more, but it appears there’s something about being married that is protective, not only in patients with heart disease but also those with heart disease risk factors,” he said.
BBC points out that the study did not ask subjects whether they were happy in their marriages. Carter said in a statement that the team’s next step will test the benefits of other types of close relationships.
“We’re not saying that everyone should get married though,” he told BBC. “We need to replicate the positive effects of marriage and use friends, family and social support networks in the same way.”
A number of other studies have actually contested the notion that marriage is the key to a long, healthy life. The Guardian reports that a recently published Swiss study asked 11,000 people about their health once per year and found that the married subjects reported declining health. The Guardian also cites a 2015 British study that found that men benefit more from marriage, leaving single women almost just as healthy.
In a statement to BBC, Dr. Mike Knapton of the British Hearth Foundation said that the study by Carter and colleagues likely proves the benefit of supportive relationships in general. So, while there is an average of 44,230 weddings in the United States every weekend, we might need more evidence before claiming marriage’s exclusive healing properties.
“The take-home message is that our social interactions, as well as medical risk factors such as high blood pressure, are important determinants of both our health and wellbeing,” he said. “Whether you are married or not, if you have any of the main risk factors for heart disease, then you can call upon loved ones to help you to manage them.”
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