Marital stress increases heart disease risk

Difficult marital relationships increase the risk of heart disease among women, but leave men physically unaffected

Having a stressful marriage increases the risk of heart disease among women a study has found.

Scientists at the University of Utah found that being in a strained relationship not only affected women emotionally but also increased levels of high blood pressure, obesity, and cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease.

But while husbands were equally at risk from depression and stress as a result of marital discord, they didn’t suffer from the same physical symptoms.

Tim Smith, co-author of the study, said that the research did not mean that women should avoid relationships with men but that they should be aware of the potentially damaging affects.
‘If you are interested in your cardiovascular risk – and we all should be because it is the leading killer for both genders – we should be concerned about not just traditional risk factors [such as blood pressure and cholesterol] but the quality of our emotional and family lives,’ he said.

Nancy Henry a psychologist who worked on the study said: ‘We know from previous research that women are more sensitive and responsive to relationship problems than men. Improving aspects of intimate relationships might help your emotional and physical wellbeing.’

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