September 16, 2011
Is love the strongest medicine?
A study conducted by the American Psychological Association
, written by Harry Reis and Kathleen King, found a strong correlation between happy marriages and survival rates after surgery related to heart disease
The study followed 225 people who had undergone bypass surgery between 1987 and 1990. The couples were tracked for a year to measure the progress of their recovery as well as the satisfaction of their marriage. Further details of the study can be found here
It was reported that patients in happy, satisfying marriages had a far better survival rate
than their single counterparts, or persons involved in unfulfilled marriages.
The effects of marital satisfaction are every bit as important to survival after bypass surgery as more traditional risk factors like tobacco use, obesity, and high blood pressure, said Harry Reis, professor of psychology and co-author of the report.
It was also revealed that the benefits of a healthy, fulfilling marriage are different for men and women. While both genders are likely to see the advantages of a happy marriage during their recovery, the particular benefits vary between men and women.
Men that are in a more satisfying marriage have a higher survival rate after heart disease treatment
Researchers also found that happily married men who undergo coronary bypass surgery are more than three times as likely to be alive 15 years later as their unmarried counterparts, the study reports.
The survival rate among women was similar but the content of the relationship was seen as much more important.
Wives need to feel satisfied in their relationships to reap a health dividend, but the payoff for marital bliss is even greater for women than for men, Reis commented.
The quality of a relationship weighed heavily on the chance of survival for women. Women in fulfilled relationships had a survival rate of nearly four times that of women in unsatisfying or unhappy marriages.
"There is something in a good relationship that helps people stay on track. Coronary bypass surgery was once seen as a miracle cure for heart disease. But now we know that for most patients, grafts are a temporary patch, even more susceptible to clogging and disease than native arteries. So, it's important to look at the conditions that allow some patients to beat the odds including relationships, concluded King, the lead author and professor emeriti for the School of Nursing at the University of Rochester.
A healthy relationship can be a very beneficial form of therapy for those recovering from heart surgery. Having a spouse beside you during recovery may not ease the physical ailments but it certainly can give you a reason to fight and survive.