Different strokes for married folks?

Apr 08, 2010

"Love and marriage," sang philosopher Frank Sinatra, "is an institute you can't disparage." Especially, a new Tel Aviv University study suggests, when a happy marriage may help to prevent fatal strokes in men.

The first study of its kind to assess the quality of a marriage and its association with risk,
Prof. Uri Goldbourt of Tel Aviv University's Neufeld Cardiac Institute found a correlation between reported "" in marriage and the likelihood that a man will die from stroke. Drawn from data collected from 10,000 men, all of them civil servants, beginning in 1965, the research was presented to experts at the American Stroke Association's International Conference earlier this year.

In the retrospective study, men were surveyed about their happiness levels and ; 34 years later, a follow-up study determined how many of the men died from stroke. Single men were found to have a 64% higher risk of a fatal stroke than married men. The quality of the marriage appeared to matter as well ― men in an unhappy union had a 64% higher risk of a fatal stroke than those who reported being happy in their marriage.

A foundation for future study

"The association we've found adjusts for factors such as age, blood type and cholesterol levels," Prof. Goldbourt notes, but he cautions that his results are only preliminary, taking into consideration only a few of many possible variables while laying the groundwork for future research. The survey measured fatal strokes only, not those that were survived, for example. And similar data was not collected from women. "It's too bad we don't have that kind of information," Prof. Goldbourt notes.

Dr. Goldbourt hopes that his research will be taken up by younger researchers as a foundational study. While many studies today report the benefits of marriage, the negative effects of an unhappy marriage may be hidden. It is plausible, Prof. Goldbourt's study suggests, that a bad is just as bad for one's health as not being married at all.

Happiness is no magic bullet

Prof. Goldbourt describes his new research as "a hypothesis generator" instead of statistical proof, because only about 4% of the men reported being completely satisfied and happy in their . And the study didn't include follow-up research on the different kinds of strokes men can succumb to. "Happiness may very well likely create healthier and reduce the risk of a fatal stroke," he says, "but we don't have all the information necessary to say that this is the magic bullet."

Previous medical studies have suggested that happiness can stave off the flu, promote positive cardiac health, and may even help people fight cancer. Much more research is needed on the happiness question, Prof. Goldbourt says, taking into account such factors as medication and the effects of happiness over time.

"We have opened a new channel of research into factors associated with death-by-stroke risk. Until that research is done, the best way to avoid one," Prof. Goldbourt concludes, "is still to maintain a healthy lifestyle."

Explore further: Public overinflates time spent by dermatologists on cosmetic Tx

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Health and marriage: The times they are a changin'

Aug 11, 2008

The health of people who never marry is improving, narrowing the gap with their wedded counterparts, according to new research that suggests the practice of encouraging marriage to promote health may be misguided.

Probing Question: What predicts a happy marriage?

Feb 19, 2009

You’ve planned the perfect Valentine’s Day, booked the candlelit restaurant, bought chocolate and flowers. (Or, depending on your darling's taste, bought tickets to a monster truck rally.) The night couldn’t have gone ...

Recommended for you

Sexual fantasies: Are you normal?

2 hours ago

Hoping for sex with two women is common but fantasizing about golden showers is not. That's just one of the findings from a research project that scientifically defines sexual deviation for the first time ever. It was undertaken ...

AMA 'Code of Ethics' offers guidance for physicians

7 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The American Medical Association (AMA) Code of Ethics and other articles provide guidance for physicians in relation to public health emergencies, according to a report from the AMA.

Pot-infused edibles: One toke over the line in Colorado?

12 hours ago

Marijuana shops have sprouted across Denver ever since Colorado legalized the drug for adults in January, but the popularity of pot-infused edibles has surprised authorities, and parents are seeking a ban ahead of Halloween.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.