A new study shows that people in unhappy marriages have a higher risk of getting a broken heart. A bad marriage is riskier for older women. They get more heart disease than men because of the stress of being in a relationship gone wrong. The study is from Michigan State University in the USA. Lead researcher Dr Hui Lui said the stress of being in an unhappy marriage has a big impact on the health of our heart. Dr Lui said one reason for older women having more heart problems is because they are generally more caring. A wife is more likely to provide support and care for her sick husband than the other way round. Also, if a wife is sick and cannot look after her husband, she can get stressed about this.
Dr Lui's team studied the health of 1,200 married men and women aged 57 to 85 over a five-year period. The researchers asked the married couples questions about their marital quality. They asked about whether they spent free time with or apart from their partner. They also asked if they could trust and rely on their spouse, and whether their spouse asks them to do too many things and is unfair. The doctors looked at the quality of the marriages to see who was happy and who was not. They then compared this with the number of heart attacks and strokes people had. People in bad marriages were more depressed, more obese and had higher blood pressure.