Marriage has been associated with health benefits, especially for men. Individuals who are married usually live longer, have less health problems, and have a lower risk of death from a heart attack or a stroke. The exact reasons for these results are unknown. They may be related to the fact that a significant other may encourage you to seek medical care more frequently. Recently, researchers have shown that men who are married will seek medical help for chest pain related to a heart attack much sooner than men who are not married. The research results were reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal by Dr. Clare Atzema and her colleagues. In the study, the investigators performed a retrospective, population based cohort analysis of patients admitted with heart attacks to 96 different hospitals in the Ontario, Canada region. The time period between April of 2004 and March of 2005 was used. Statistical analysis was used to evaluate the time of delay to the hospital with respect to marital status and gender. There were 4,403 patients evaluated with heart attacks during this time period and the mean age was 67.3. About half of the patients presented to the hospital within two hours of the start of chest pain that would eventually result in a heart attack. Almost two thirds of the patients presented to the hospital within six hours of the start of chest pain. Male patients who were married had lower odds of presenting to the hospital on a delayed time frame when compared to male patients who were single. Among married women, the effect of marital status did not have an impact on time frame of presentation with chest pain that led to a heart attack. The authors wrote, “Among men experiencing acute myocardial infarction with chest pain, being married was associated with significantly earlier presentation for care, a benefit that was not observed for married women. Earlier presentation for medical care appears to be one reason for the observed lower risk of cardiovascular death among married men, relative to their single counterparts”.
The results of this study show that some of the health benefits for married men may be related to earlier presentation to the hospital when experiencing chest pain, likely spurred on by the urging of a caring wife.
See the MedPage Today interview with Dr. Clare Atzema below:
Clare L. Atzema et al. “Effect of marriage on duration of chest pain associated with acute myocardial infarction before seeking care” CMAJ 2011; DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.110170.