There may be a link between marital distress and a worse outcome after a heart attack for people under 55, according to a new study.
“Our findings confirm that stress experienced in a person’s daily life, such as marital stress, can affect young people’s recovery after a heart attack,” said the study’s lead author, Cenjing Zhu, in a press release published Monday. October 31, announcement of results.
Preliminary research is to be presented at the 2022 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, which will be held in person in Chicago as well as virtually from November 5-7, 2022.
Zhu is a Doctor of Philosophy. candidate at the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Connecticut.
She added in the release that “additional stressors beyond marital stress, such as financial strain or job stress, may also play a role in young adults’ recovery, and the interaction between these factors warrants further research.”
The study examined 1,593 young adults aged 18-55 who were treated for a heart attack at one of 103 hospitals located in 30 states.
These adults were simultaneously enrolled in a study called “VIRGO,” or “Variations in Recovery: Role of Gender on Outcomes in Young AMI Patients,” the release noted.
All of the people in the study were either married or in a “committed partnership” when they had the heart attack, the release said, and more than 66 percent of the study participants were women.
One month after the heart attack, the participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire called the Stockholm Marital Stress Scale and were rated as having “absent/mild”, “moderate” and “severe” levels of marital stress.
The participants were then followed up for a year after their heart attack, the release said.
Zhu and her co-authors found that people who had “severe levels of stress” scored 1.6 points lower in physical health and 2.6 points lower in mental health on a 12-item scale than those with missing/ mild stress levels.
“Participants reported severe levels of stress [scored] nearly 5 points lower in overall quality of life and 8 points lower in quality of life as measured by a scale specifically designed for heart patients,” the release said.
Marital stress was also associated with chest pain and readmission to hospital within a year of the initial heart attack, the study found.
Those with “severe” levels of stress were almost 50% more likely to be readmitted to hospital for any reason compared to those without marital stress.
Poorer health outcomes existed even when controlling for the participant’s sex, age, race and ethnicity, according to the release.
Controlling for employment, education, income and health insurance status reduced the association, it said — but “the association remained statistically significant.”
A Boston-area man in his late 70s with recurrent atrial fibrillation said the Yale study made sense to him: He found that being happy and at peace in his marriage, has positively impacted his own heart health.
“I know I’m older than the patients in this study, but my wife’s daily emotional and mental support has without a doubt helped me to be able to stabilize my a-fib,” he told Fox News Digital.
And he added: “Love heals.”
Zhu said that in the future, medical professionals “should consider screening patients for daily stress during follow-up visits to better help identify those at high risk for poor physical/mental recovery or additional hospitalization.”
“A holistic model of care built on clinical factors and psychosocial aspects may be helpful, especially for younger adults after a heart attack,” she said.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States: one person dies every 34 seconds from heart disease, according to the CDC.
Christine Roussel is a lifestyle reporter at Fox News Digital.
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