When being married makes being sick worse

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Research suggests that being happily married can have a big effect on helping us recover from serious health crises like a heart attack. For men, in fact, marriage doesn’t even have to be particularly happy to increase positive health outcomes. Just the mere state of being married, happily or miserably, apparently leads to better outcomes in males.

But not so for women. A study from the University of Utah, for example, tells us that after 15 years of follow-up, researchers found that 83% of happily wedded wives were still alive after their cardiac bypass surgery, versus only 28% of women in unhappy marriages.  They also found that women who report high levels of marital strain also report depression, high blood pressure, high LDL (bad) cholesterol, obesity and other signs of metabolic syndrome – a cluster of known risk factors for cardiovascular disease. And in 2006, the American Journal of Cardiology published a study that found patients with both severe heart disease and poor marriages had a four times higher risk of dying over a four-year period.

So consider for example, how the day-to-day reality described by these heart patients might affect their prognoses:     Continue reading “When being married makes being sick worse”

Marriage triples our bypass surgery survival rates – but only if it’s happy

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

While the recent headlines about this new cardiac study suggest that a happy marriage can triple (and even quadruple!) your longterm survival chances after heart bypass surgery, there’s more behind this story than the wedded bliss angle.

Researchers from the University of Rochester tell us that happily married people who undergo coronary bypass surgery are three times more likely to be alive 15 years later compared to their unmarried counterparts. For happily married women, those odds can actually jump to four times higher.

But buried in the good news hype is another important fact: that for women who do not rate their marriage as happy, survival stats are virtually identical to those for unmarried women.  Continue reading “Marriage triples our bypass surgery survival rates – but only if it’s happy”

Women heart attack survivors know their place


by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

American broadcast journalist Barbara Walters once did a story on gender roles in Kabul, Afghanistan several years before the Afghan conflict. She noted that women customarily walked five paces behind their husbands.

Years later, she later returned to Kabul and observed that women still walk behind their husbands.

From Barbara’s vantage point, the women walked even further back behind their husbands, and seemed to appear happy to maintain the old custom.

She approached one of the Afghani women and asked: “Why do you continue with an old custom that you once tried so desperately to change?”  

The woman looked Barbara straight in the eyes, and without hesitation said: 

“Land mines!”

We don’t walk five paces behind our men here in North America, but when it comes to taking care of ourselves after a catastrophic health crisis like a heart attack, we might as well be.

Continue reading “Women heart attack survivors know their place”