Most of us know how important it is to eat right and exercise regularly in order to enjoy a healthy heart and avoid future problems like cardiovascular disease. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania have added their data to a growing body of research that suggests there is a link between marriage and heart health. The goal of this study was to determine whether or not the positive or negative interactions between married couples would impact heart health.
For the purposes of this heart health study, scientists monitored 281 healthy middle-aged adults. All of them were employed and either married or living with a partner in a relationship that was very similar to marriage. Across a period of four days, the researchers evaluated interactions between study subjects and their partners every hour. Also, the subjects were asked to rate those interactions as ones that were either positive or negative.
Besides that, scientists checked the thickness of the subjects’ carotid arteries. Those are major factors in heart health, because they supply the neck and head with oxygen-filled blood. When carotid arteries become too thick, they can also narrow. Together, those problems can lead to a buildup of artery plaque that is considered a major detriment to overall heart health.
The study results were recently published in the Psychosomatic Medicine journal, and indicated that subjects who reported having negative interactions with a partner were more likely to have thicker carotid arteries. It was also determined that those people had an 8.5 percent higher risk of heart health problems compared with individuals who interacted with their partners in positive ways.
Heart health, then, may not only be linked to biological factors, the amount we exercise, or what we choose to eat. It is known that emotional well-being is also essential for good health. Since problems like excessive stress can also cause an increased risk of heart problems, it makes sense why it’s worth the effort to build and maintain a strong and happy marriage that is able to withstand even occasional difficulties.
Scientists clarified that the findings of this heart health study were consistent regardless of demographic factors such as age, gender and race, and that they held up even after accounting for other risk factors that can contribute to the risk of poor heart health. So, according to this research, it may not be enough to just treat yourself right, but also necessary to work hard and foster nurturing relationships with others.
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