Unhappy Marriages Significantly Increases Men’s Risk of Stroke

The study conducted at Tel Aviv University collected data over 30 years on the deaths of 10,000 Israeli men under 50, such as smoking and a sedentary lifestyle are

Unhappiness with married life significantly increases the probability of dying under 50 in a cerebrovascular accident (Stroke) just as well-known risk factors such as smoking and inactivity are, according to a new Tel Aviv University study.

The study drew on significant health data compiled over the course of more than 30 years of research on the deaths of 10,000 Israeli men.

The researcher published in The Journal of Clinical Medicine led by Prof. Uri Goldbort of the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Dr. Shahar Lev-Ari, head of the Department of Health Promotion, and Dr. Yiftah Gapner of the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine.

The researchers conducted statistical analyses of a database that began collecting data in the 1960s and studied the health and behavior of 10,000 men, all of whom were Israeli state employees, for 32 years, with a particular emphasis on death from strokes and premature death.

Dr. Shahar Lev-Ari / Tel Aviv university

At the start of the study, the majority of individuals were in their forties. Since then, 64% have perished from a variety of diseases. “We intended to evaluate the data longitudinally using a variety of criteria in order to uncover behavioral and psychosocial risk factors associated with death from a stroke (CVA) and any cause of premature death,” Dr. Lev-Ari adds.

According to the researchers, early in the 32-year-extensive study, participants were asked to rate their degree of marriage satisfaction on a scale ranging from 1 (marriage is extremely successful) to 4. (marriage is unsuccessful).

To their astonishment, the analysis revealed that this scale was a predictor of life expectancy, similar to smoking and inactivity. For example, the number of stroke deaths was 69 percent higher among those who rated their marriage 4 – unsuccessful. Compared to those who ranked their marriage satisfaction very highly – 40.6 dead among the very dissatisfied versus 24.0 among the very satisfied.

When it came to death from any cause, the happily married had a 19% advantage. While there were 295.3 fatalities for any reason among the unhappily married, there were only 248.5 deaths among the happily married.

According to the researchers, the disparities were much greater among men who were relatively young (under 50) at the start of the study.

Additionally, the researchers did a statistical study of all known risk factors for cardiovascular disease death, including diabetes, hypertension, an abnormal BMI, and socioeconomic status. Similarly, the data was somewhat startling in this case. It is out that the relative risk of dying for any reason was 1.21 higher for individuals who were dissatisfied with their marriages than for those who were happily married. This rate is consistent with data from the literature on smokers and individuals who have sedentary lifestyles.

As summarized by Dr. Lev-Ari: “Our research demonstrates that the quality of marriage and family life has an effect on life expectancy. Men who considered their marriages as failures died at a younger age than men who perceived their marriages as extremely successful. In other words, marital satisfaction has emerged as a predictor of life expectancy at a similar rate to smoking (smokers versus non-smokers) and physical activity (activity versus inactivity). Additionally, it is critical to mention that we detected a higher risk among relatively young men, less than 50 years old. At a later age, the disparity narrows, maybe due to the adjustment processes that life partners undergo over time. These findings corroborated previous research demonstrating the efficacy of educational programs promoting healthy life partnerships as part of a broader national plan to promote public health and wellness.”

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