Married women are less likely to die from heart disease than single women, according to a new study from the University of Oxford in the U.K.
Medical News Today
reports the study,
published in the journal BMC Medicine
, echoes past research that has found married men also have a lower risk of death from heart disease than unmarried men.
Lead researcher Sarah Floud noted the new study is among the first to assess this link among women.
For the study, Floud's team analyzed data from the U.K.'s Million Women Study — a national health research project involving more than 1.3 million women aged 50 years and over who were recruited between 1996 and 2001. The women were required to complete a health questionnaire at the start of the study and were re-evaluated 3 years later.
About 734,626 women, with a mean age of 60, were included in the University of Oxford's study. Over a period of nearly nine years, 30,747 of the women developed heart disease and 2,148 women died from it.
The researchers found that women who were married or living with a partner had the same risk of developing heart disease as unmarried women. But unmarried were 28 percent more likely to die from heart disease, compared with those who were married.
The researchers suggested married women have a lower risk of death because their spouses may encourage them to respond to symptoms of the condition and seek medical treatment.
"Our study results suggest that it is unlikely that the lower risk of death for married women is due to a lower risk of developing heart disease, and instead it appears to be related to a woman's response to the disease, " Floud told Medical News Today.
Fast facts about women and heart disease
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the U.S., killing up to five times as many women as breast cancer.
- Only 54 percent of women recognize that heart disease is their number one killer.
- Almost two-thirds of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.