Could A Relationship Be The Key To A Healthier Heart? - Men's Health Magazine Australia

Could A Relationship Be The Key To A Healthier Heart?

We're not saying you should get involved in cuffing season but we're not NOT saying it...

If you’re looking for a reason to put a ring on it, this could be a nudge in that particular direction. New research out of the University of Colorado School of Medicine suggests that men in lifelong relationships have greater long-term survival after heart failure than men who never marry.

“Non-medical factors, such as relationship history, can have a significant impact on the course of heart failure,” said senior researcher Dr David Kao, whose study was shared on the Australian Men’s Health Forum, and found that lifelong bachelors were around two times more likely to die than men who were (or had been) married.

Yep, that’s right – for men who were widowed, divorced or separated, there was no difference in risk compared to men who remained married.

What the study couldn’t tell them, though, was why this is the case.

“At present, we have not identified precisely what these effects are, but they could include health-seeking behaviours, socioeconomic and family support in older age, or differences in factors like frailty and nutrition, and mood,” said Dr Kao.

Image shows close-up of a man and a woman sitting on a couch, holding hands. You can't see their faces, their clasped hands are the focus.
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Heart disease is the no. 1 killer of men in Australia, with 30 males a day dying from heart disease – and 4 in 5 of those aged under 64. Now, don’t get us wrong – we’re not suggesting you get married if it’s not what you want to do! But this new research certainly sheds some interesting light on a subject that affects men more than any other group, and knowing how to improve your heart health can never be a bad thing, right?

Interestingly, the same result wasn’t seen in women. “In this case, relationship history appears to be much more important in men than women,” said Dr Kao, adding that, “recognition of these factors may help identify new interpersonal strategies that could help improve the ability of patients to cope with heart failure.”

While the results are certainly interesting, it’s worth noting that the study looked at 94 men who had been diagnosed with heart disease, comparing survival rates from when heart failure was first diagnosed, and their marital status over an average follow-up of five years. This wasn’t a predictor of the development of heart disease.

But, added Dr Greg Fonarow, director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center and co-chief of the UCLA division of cardiology in Los Angeles, “Social determinants of health are increasingly recognised as important contributors to the risk of heart failure and mortality among individuals with established heart failure.”

Taking care of heart health doesn’t have to mean finding a life partner, of course. There are plenty of ways to take care of your ticker, from watching less TV, to doing more exercise. Oh, and if you’re experiencing problems in the bedroom? It might be a good push to see your GP for some heart-health checks, too.

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