Study: Polygamy Leads to Heart Disease

In a multicenter observational study reported April 29 at the Asian Pacific Society of Cardiology Congress 2015, held in Abu Dhabi, researchers examined the relationship between the severity and presence of coronary artery disease in male patients and the number of wives they have. The more wives, the more heart disease.

Cardiologists often recommend lifestyle changes to their patients, but this one could be sensitive: avoid polygamy.

In a multicenter observational study reported April 29 at the Asian Pacific Society of Cardiology Congress 2015, held in Abu Dhabi, researchers examined the relationship between the severity and presence of coronary artery disease in male patients and the number of wives they have.

“Polygamy increases the risk of heart disease by more than 4-fold,” Amin Daulah, MD, a cardiologist at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, reported at the conference.

Despite the evidence that in general being married confers better health and longevity, there can be too much of a good thing when it comes to having multiple wives, he said.

The researchers looked at male patients referred for coronary angiography at 5 hospitals in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. All had at least a 70% narrowing in a major blood vessel or more than 50% in the left main artery.

There were 687 married men in the study. While most (68% or 130) had one wife, 19% (130) had 2 wives, 10% (70) had 3 wives and 3% (21) had 4 wives.

They found that after adjusting for baseline differences, the was a 4.6 fold increased risk of coronary artery disease, a 3.5 fold increase in the risk of left main artery narrowing, and a 2.6 elevevated risk of multivessel disease.

The reasons are common sensical, Daoulah said. Having more wives means more households to support, likely having more than one job, and an increase emotional stress.

“Each household must be treated fairly and equally, and it seems likely that the stress of doing that for several spouses and possibly several families of children is considerable,” he said. But he cautioned there could also be confounding factors contributing to his findings.

Daoulah’s research did not look at stress or heart disease in the wives.

Polygamy is practiced mainly in North and West African, the Middle East, Central Asia and Southeast Asia, he said.

The study was reported in New York by Capital Health Care.