Heart Health

Divorce Is Bad For The Heart, Could Increase Heart Attack Risk

A recent study suggests divorce is bad for the heart — in more ways than one. Although divorce is commonly associated with heartbreak, it may also increase the risk of heart attack.

Beginning in 1992, researchers with the Duke University Clinical Research Institute interviewed 16,000 adults between the ages of 45 and 80 every two years.

As reported by the American Heart Association, divorce was found to be “a significant risk factor for” acute myocardial infarction, which is commonly referred to as a heart attack.

Male participants who went through one divorce were 10 percent more likely to have a heart attack. Those who were divorced more than once were 30 percent more likely.

As reported by BBC, divorce can be bad for anyone’s heart. However, the risk is even higher for women. The researchers found that divorced women were 24 percent more likely to suffer acute myocardial infarction. Women who went through more than one divorce were 77 percent more likely.

Although divorce is bad for men’s hearts, remarriage appears to reduce the risk of heart attack. Unfortunately, remarriage does not significantly reduce the risk for women.

Professor Linda George said the risk for both men and women is “comparable to that of high blood pressure or… diabetes.”

George said divorce often causes prolonged periods of stress and depression. As a result, men and women may experience both psychological and physical symptoms.

“… we know that psychological distress is a constant stress on the immune system, higher levels of inflammation and stress hormones increase. Immune function is altered for the worse and if that continues for many years it does take a physiological toll.”

Professor George explains that divorced women often experience a deeper “psychological burden” than men. Unfortunately, long-term mental health issues can have a negative impact on the heart.

As reported by Global News, men and women may increase the risk by picking up bad habits to cope with the stress. Dr. Gregg Fonarow explains that drinking, lack of exercise, unhealthy eating, and smoking are all risk factors for acute myocardial infarction.

Although divorce is bad for the heart, men and women can reduce the risk by eating healthy foods, exercising, reducing stress.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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