Happily Married Men at Less Risk of Fatal Stroke

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Men take note: if you are happily married, you are at less risk of a fatal stroke. If you are a single man, then you have a much higher risk of a fatal stroke than your married peers. And if you are an unhappily married man, things do not look too good for you either.

These are the general findings from a retrospective study that spanned 34 years. Professor Uri Goldbourt of Tel Aviv University’s Neufeld Cardiac Institute examined the data collected from 10,000 men beginning in 1965 and conducted a follow-up study to identify how many of the men had died from stroke.

After adjusting for age, blood type, and cholesterol levels, Goldbourt found that unmarried men had a 64 percent higher risk of a fatal stroke than married men. Being married did not protect men, however: unhappily married men also had a 64 percent higher chance of having a fatal stroke than men who were happily married.

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In a previous study, published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior in 2008, researchers from Michigan State University found that getting married does not impart the health benefits that it used to in the past. Historically, married couples enjoyed better health than their never-married peers.

The 2008 study, however, showed that the benefit gap was closing up as self-rated health of both men and women who had never married was improving and nearing that of the married population. This study was based on 32 years of data gathered from about 1.1 million people, including those who were married, widowed, divorced, separated, and never married.

Goldbourt’s study is the first to evaluate the quality of marriage and its association with the risk of stroke. The findings suggest that happily married men fare much better than unmarried men or unhappily married men when it comes to surviving a stroke. Although he warned that the results are only preliminary, Goldbourt also pointed out that “We have opened a new channel of research into factors associated with death-by-stroke risk. Until that research is done, the best way to avoid one is still to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

SOURCES:
Liu H, Umberson DJ. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 2008 Sep; 49(3): 239-53
Tel Aviv University

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