A study found that happy marriages help heart attack patients recover faster, indicating that couples who have loving and supportive partners are less likely to return to the hospital or suffer from chest pain.
A stressful marriage is linked to a slower recovery, according to researchers at Yale University The researchers also found that this issue affects more women since they are more likely to report severe marital stress than men.
The experts also pointed out that the findings could pave the way for heart disease to stop being considered a disease of a single organ and begin to understand it more comprehensively, in terms of patients' mental health and personal circumstances as well.
They suggested that looking at the daily stresses of heart patients could improve treatment and care, including financial and work stress, as well as marital issues.
The study findings improve the current understanding that marriage or association is related to improved health and heart disease prediction.
After discovering that stress has a negative impact on recovery from heart disease, the study's lead researcher, Dr. Singjing Zhou, of the Yale School of Public Health, said more resources are needed to reduce people's stress levels.
"Healthcare professionals should be aware of personal factors that may contribute to cardiac recovery and focus on directing patients to resources that help manage and reduce their stress levels," she added.
Dr. Zhou compared those who had a recovery one year after a heart attack to those who reported marital stress in a study of 1,593 people. Her team rated everyone based on their physical and mental health and stress levels, using a 12-point self-reported scale.
According to the study, those who reported important levels of marital stress were 67% more likely to report chest pain compared to people with mild or no marital stress, and their risk of returning to the hospital was estimated at 50%.
"Our findings support that stress experienced in daily life, such as marital stress, may affect the recovery of young people after a heart attack," Dr. Zhou explained.
"However, additional stresses beyond marital stress, such as financial or work stress, may also play a role in youth recovery, and the interaction between these factors requires further research." It also recommended that future efforts should consider screening patients for daily stress during follow-up appointments to help better identify those at risk of poor physical or mental recovery or in need of additional hospitalization.
All patients in the American Heart Association study were treated for a heart attack, and each group member was married or in a committed partnership when he had a heart attack.
To assess the level of marital stress one month after the heart attack, participants answered a 17-item questionnaire that included the quality of the emotional and sexual relationship with a spouse or partner, and based on their responses, they were divided into 3 groups: absent or mild marital stress, moderate marital stress, and marital stress severe.
Professor Nika Goldberg, a volunteer expert at the American Heart Association, said: "This study highlights the importance of assessing the mental health of patients with heart disease, and is consistent with previous studies showing that the stresses of marriage place a greater burden on women's health."