Marriage Increases Survival Rates Following Heart Surgery

Patients in a happy marriage were three times more likely to be alive15 years following coronary bypass surgery than patients who were single.

According to a recent study, individuals who undergo heart bypass surgery survive longer if they are happily married.

Patients in a happy marriage were three times more likely to be alive15 years following coronary bypass surgery than patients who were single.

Study co-author Harry T. Reis, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, reported that there are many reasons why marriage can increase the physical health of an individual, especially one recovering from an intense surgery.

"Marriage gives you purpose in life, and feeling like you have a reason to live is an important part of doing the things you need to do to stay alive," Reis stated. "Married people also help each other, remind each other it's time to take their pills. And they probably eat healthier."

"When people are not married and living alone,” continued Reis, “that's when they really let themselves go, especially when they're in their 60s or 70s and living alone."

The researchers focused on 225 people who underwent coronary bypass surgery between the years of 1987 and 1990. Overall, 124 patients (55%) survived for at least the next 15 years: 61% of the married patients and 30% of the unmarried.

Post-bypass survival odds decreased for both unmarried women (only 26% of them were still alive by the end of the period) and unmarried men (only 36% were still living).

Of the married patients, however, 83% were still alive by the end of the study.

There was one catch reported: Unhappy marriages resulted in only 29% of women and 60% of the men in unhappy marriages surviving until the end of the study.

The study was published in the journal Health Psychology.