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Is your marriage bad for your heart?

Much has been written about the mind and body connection and how both positive and negative thoughts and emotions can have a favorable or adverse impact on an individual's overall health. This notion often becomes especially apparent as individuals age and one's life experiences and the affects of one's overall attitude and outlook manifest into health problems.

A study based on this theory was recently published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior and specifically aimed to examine the link between the quality of a marriage and cardiovascular health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 percent of annual deaths in the U.S. are attributable to heart disease and annual costs associated with treating heart disease in U.S. patients tops $108 billion. Given the prevalence and significant personal and financial costs associated with heart disease, researchers have begun to examine other issues that may contribute to an individual’s development of the disease.

After evaluating 1,200 married men and women ages 57 to 85, researchers determined that an unhappy marriage can significantly increase one's chances of developing heart disease. This appears to be especially true when it comes to women who are in an unhappy marriage as researchers note; women are more likely to "internalize their emotions and feelings about marital strain."

The findings of this study are noteworthy in not only showing an apparent link between the quality of marriage and cardiovascular health, but also one's overall happiness. It stands to reason that unhappy spouses are more likely to feel stressed and lonely. Over time, these feelings can lead to depression which has been linked to the development of several other health problems and conditions including heart disease.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Study Reveals Surprising Link Between A Bad Marriage And Heart Health," Yagana Shah, Nov. 24, 2014

National Institute of Mental Health, "Depression and Heart Disease," 2014