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Marriage Thrills But Divorce Kills

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Marriage thrills But Divorce kills
Divorce apparently harms the cardiovascular health of women, but men’s hearts appear to escape unscathed, a new study shows.
The ill effects are largely due to the economic consequences, as well as the emotional distress, of divorce for women, conclude Dr Zhenmei Zhang of Bowling Green State University in Ohio and Dr Mark D Hayward at the University of Texas at Austin.

Zhang and Hayward also found that while divorce didn't appear to affect men's cardiovascular health, divorced, widowed and remarried men were all more likely to die sooner of non-heartrelated causes than men who had stayed married to the same person. The health effects of marriage are well established. People who have even once been married live longer than their never-married counterparts, and are less likely to suffer from mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Few researchers, however, have looked beyond ever-married or nevermarried status to study the effects of divorce on health.

To investigate, the researchers studied data on 9,434 men and women between the ages of 51 and 61 in 1992 who were interviewed every two years and the results were reported in the Journal of Marriage and Family.

Women who had been divorced, widowed or remarried were more likely to develop heart disease during the course of the study than those who were married to the same person, the researchers found. They estimated that by the age of 60, assuming none had died, 31 percent of remarried women, 33 per cent of divorced women and 30 per cent of widows would have heart disease, compared to 22 per cent of women still married to the same person. No such difference was seen for men. In fact, men who remarried were actually 19 percent less likely to develop heart disease than those who had stayed married to the same person.

Hayward and Zhang noted that remarried women were more likely to have heart disease than women married to the same person, although their financial circumstances were not substantially worse. More study is needed to understand why, they conclude.

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