Heart Health

Updated 18 May 2018

Why Harry and Meghan’s wedding will be good for their hearts

Studies show that being married reduces the risk of death in patients with heart disease.

The public romance of Britain's Prince Harry and Hollywood's Meghan Markle may seem more fairy tale than real life, but there is one potential advantage to tying the knot that they'll share with all of us commoners.

That's because marriage, an affair of the heart, can impact the actual heart

Influence of being married

Research has shown that being married reduces the risk of death in patients with heart disease.

Marriage's impact on the heart is apparent, according to a study published in December in the Journal of the American Heart Association. It's the first to show an association between marital status and heart disease-related death among patients with known or suspected coronary artery disease.

"I was somewhat surprised by the magnitude of the influence of being married," said the study's lead researcher, Dr Arshed A. Quyyumi, co-director of the Emory Clinical Cardiovascular Research Institute at Emory University in Atlanta.

There are various reasons why marriage might make a difference, Quyyumi said.

"Other than social support, there is some suggestion that health outcomes are improved by optimism, coping, and perhaps lower anxiety and depression. All of these things, or managing them, may be affected by being married," he said.

Rocky relationships don't improve anything

Other studies have shown that how good the marriage is can also make a difference to a couple's health.

Most show happier marriages resulted in better health outcomes, such as fewer serious diseases and hospitalisations. But rocky relationships don't seem to improve anything health-wise.

"While marriage has long been argued to promote health, it is not the case that any marriage is better than none," wrote sociologists Hui Liu and Linda Waite in "Bad marriage, broken heart? Age and gender differences in the link between marital quality and cardiovascular risks among older adults". It was published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

The study concluded that "marital status is independently associated with cardiovascular outcomes in patients with or at high risk of cardiovascular disease, with higher mortality in the unmarried population." 

Image credit: AFP