Those who get divorced are more likely to have a heart attack, according to new research published in the journal Circulation. The study found that divorced persons often suffer from chronic stress, which increases the risk, the BBC reported.
The study, conducted by researchers at Duke University who analyzed data from 1992 to 2010, also found that women who got divorced were 24 percent more likely than men to suffer a heart attack, the BBC reported. There was little change in heart attack risk when men or women remarried, the study said.
"This risk is comparable to that of high blood pressure or if you have diabetes, so it's right up there, it is pretty big,” said professor Linda George, one the researchers for the study, according to the BBC.
Professor Jeremy Pearson of the British Heart Foundation told the BBC that this supports the idea that our mental health impacts our physical health. Still, more research needs to be done before researchers can definitively say that divorce causes heart attacks.
"This study suggests that divorce might increase a person's risk of a heart attack,” Pearson told the BBC. "But the results are not definitive, so further evidence would be needed before divorce could be considered a significant risk factor for causing a heart attack."
This is far from the first study to show links between marital stress and the heart. A study published in The Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences earlier this month found that men have higher blood pressure when their wives are stressed.
The study, conducted at the University of Michigan, said husbands often rely on their wives for support, The Huffington Post reported. But when wives are stressed out and unavailable for comfort, men will worry more about their marriage problems and their overall stresses, causing higher blood pressure.
Lois Collins of Deseret News National reported in December 2014 that older couples are at greater risk for heart trouble when their marriage is on the rocks.
Collins reported on a study that found that couples in a bad marriage will have high blood pressure, hyper tension, rapid heart rate and other cardiovascular issues — and that risk will only continue as couples age, Collins reported.
The study suggests couples, especially older ones who may be facing marital issues, seek out counseling to help their heart issues subside.
"Marriage counseling is focused largely on younger couples," lead researcher Hui Liu, a sociologist, said in a statement, cited by Collins. “But these results show that marital quality is just as important at older ages, even when the couple has been married 40 to 50 years."
Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret News National. Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @herbscribner.