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Marital status as a new risk factor for heart disease and strokes?
The result of an international study: marital status could in future be seen as a new risk factor for heart diseases and strokes. According to the researchers, the patient's relationship and family status not only influences the occurrence, but also the chances of survival after such diseases. Single, divorced or widowed people are said to have an increased risk of suffering from such an illness and dying from the consequences.
Heart disease and stroke top the list of the most common causes of death. Accordingly, researchers and medical professionals pay special attention to these diseases. An international team of researchers led by Keele University in the United Kingdom in collaboration with Macquarie University in Sydney. In their study, the team concluded that marriage may protect against heart disease and stroke. In addition, married people are more likely to survive the consequences of such diseases. The results were recently published in the "BMJ Journals Heart".
Marital status could soon be seen as a new risk factor
As the researchers report, previous risk factors only cover around 80 percent of the risk. Known influences include age, gender, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and diabetes. However, it is still unclear what influences the remaining 20 percent. Based on the results of the study, the scientists now propose that marital status be used as a further risk factor for heart diseases and strokes.
According to the scientists, there have been no clear findings on this topic so far. The research team selected the most relevant of the past 50 years from 225 studies. These 34 studies were re-evaluated in a meta-analysis. Data from more than two million people aged 42 to 77 from Europe, Scandinavia, North America, the Middle East and Asia were taken into account.
The yes word for a lower risk of illness
"Our work suggests that relationship status must be considered when it comes to the risk of cardiovascular disease," said Professor Mamas Mamas, lead author of the study and professor of cardiology at Keele University. A person's relationship status should be considered along with common risk factors when it comes to identifying patients who are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
The study results
As the analysis of the experts showed, unmarried, divorced or widowed people had a 42 percent higher risk of cardiovascular diseases and are 16 percent more likely to suffer cardiovascular diseases. In addition, unmarried status was associated with a 42 percent increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and a 55 percent increased chance of succumbing to a stroke.
Married people live more dangerous
"Our analysis showed that compared to married people, unmarried people were more likely to be associated with cardiovascular disease and fatal strokes," said Dr Anastasia Mihailidou from the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Macquarie University. It is therefore important to take a closer look at the patient's social circumstances and marital status. If necessary, special support would have to be set up as part of patient care.
Substitute marker or independent risk factor?
"Future research should focus on whether marital status is a replacement marker for other negative health behaviors or cardiovascular risk profiles, or whether marital status should be seen as a separate risk factor," said lead scientist Chun Wai Wong of Keele University. (vb)