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John Whyte, M.D., MPH Headshot

The Health-Related Reason Men Should Get Married (And Women Shouldn't)

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MARRIAGE AND HEART ATTACKS
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For anyone on the fence about getting married, there is new data that may assist in your decision to take that walk down the aisle or not. No, it's not about potential changes to the tax code! Rather, it's about surviving a heart attack. A recent study suggests that married men get to the hospital faster when they have life-threatening chest pain than their single brethren. Yes, I said married men. And getting quicker to the hospital usually means getting life-saving care sooner, so that's a pretty good benefit of marriage!

The reason: It seems that the quicker medical attention may be due in part to the wives' traditional role of caregiver. It is the wife that takes the chest pain seriously and encourages the husband to seek early medical assessment. Though I bet some of you think it is just wives' refusal to let husbands do anything, dying from a heart attack included, without first giving them permission to do so!

These recent findings may possibly explain why married men have been shown to have a lower risk of both all-cause and cardiovascular death than single men.

And while matrimony appears to be a winning combination for the husbands in the area of early care for a heart attack, wives did not see the same association when compared to single women. The study noted that single women were more likely to get to the hospital prompter than women who were married -- just the opposite of the finding for men.

Now, before anyone rushes to accuse husbands of not paying enough attention to their wives, a common variable that may contribute to the delay of medical care is that females often have atypical heart attack symptoms. They may have numbness instead of chest pressure, or may simply have shortness of breath. This just reinforces the need to know one's risk factors for heart disease and to take any symptoms of "not feeling right" seriously.

So, for any single men thinking about "putting a ring on it," factoring in this new data may be worth considering!

Reference:

Atzema, C. Effect of marriage on duration of chest pain associated with acute myocardial infarction before seeking care. CMAJ 2011;Sept 20:183:1482-91.

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