Women must have a happy marriage to benefit from heart boost.
Being married triples the chances that you will likely survive major heart surgery than cohabiting, researchers say.
However, the scientists from the University of Rochester in New York found that while men benefited no matter what the state of their marriage, women were only boosted if they were content in their union.
‘There is something in a good relationship that helps people stay on track’, said lead author Professor Kathleen King.
Surprisingly marital satisfaction was found to be just as important to survival as smoking, obesity and high blood pressure.
While unhappy marriages provide virtually no survival bonus for women, satisfying unions increase a wife’s survival rate almost fourfold, the study found.
‘Wives need to feel satisfied in their relationships to reap a health dividend,’ said study co-author Professor Harry Reis.
‘But the payoff for marital bliss is even greater for women than for men.
‘A good marriage gets under your skin whether you are male or female.’
The team followed 225 people who had bypass surgery between 1987 and 1990. They asked married participants to rate their relationship satisfaction one year after surgery.
The study, published in Health Psychology, adjusted for age, sex, education, depressed mood, tobacco use, and other factors known to affect survival rates for cardiovascular disease.
Fifteen years after surgery, 83 per cent of happily wedded wives were still alive, versus 28 per cent of women in unhappy marriages and 27 per cent of unmarried women.
The survival rate for contented husbands was also 83 per cent, but even the not-so-happily married fared well. Men in less-than-satisfying unions enjoyed a survival rate of 60 per cent, significantly better than the 36 percent rate for unmarried men.
‘Other research has shown that women are more physiologically sensitive to relationship distress than men, so an unhappy marriage can take a greater toll on their health,’ Professor Reis said.
Professor King said coronary bypass surgery was a temporary solution as patients were susceptible to clogging after the operation. Therefore it was essential to look at conditions that help patients to beat the odds.
She said supportive husbands and wives were likely to help encourage healthy behaviour and patients in a nuturing marriage had more motivation to care for themselves.
Last week, researchers at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, found that single women were at risk of dying seven to 15 years earlier than their married counterparts.
Single men fared even worse, with their married peers living eight to 17 years longer.
Their findings showed that single men were at a 32 per cent increased risk of dying over a lifetime when compared with married men, and single women were at a 23 per cent higher risk than married women.
David Roelfs, assistant professor of sociology at the university, said that the report showed ‘just how poorly the singles do’.
He said the results could be explained by the fact that married couples tend to have a stronger support network around them.
Via Daily Mail