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Marriage could ‘improve heart attack survival’

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Being married could improve the likelihood of surviving a heart attack and is associated with a reduced length of hospital stay, according to findings from a UK study.

Researchers from Aston Medical School and the University of East Anglia found that married people were 14% less likely to die after a heart attack than single people.

“Our results should not be a cause for concern for single people”

Nicholas Gollop

Married people were also, on average, likely to spend two fewer days in hospital than single people.

The researchers based their findings on a study of over 25,000 patients who had a myocardial infarction between January 2000 and March 2013.

They suggested the findings emphasised the importance of physical and emotional support after the event.

Although previous studies have linked marriage to improved heart attack outcomes, this is the first study to suggest that marital status affects how quickly heart attack patients are discharged.

The researchers said the results revealed a need for clinicians to consider the psychosocial effects of a heart attack, and consider them as a risk factor when treating and managing patient discharge.

Study author Dr Nicholas Gollop, clinical research fellow in cardiology at the University of East Anglia, said the results should be a “reminder to the medical community of the importance of considering the support a heart attack survivor will get once they’re discharged”.

British Heart Foundation

Dr Michael Knapton

Mike Knapton

Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “A heart attack can have both devastating physical and psychological effects – most of which are hidden from the outside world.

“These findings suggest the support offered by spouse can have a beneficial effect on heart attack survivors, perhaps helping to minimise the impact of a heart attack,” he said.

He added that, regardless of marital status, enrolling on a cardiac rehabilitation course could help patients to recover physically and psychologically, and also meet people with similar experiences.

The research was presented at the British Cardiovascular Society Conference in Manchester today.

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