Being married makes a healthy heart, according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Surgery.
By looking at survival rates after major cardiac surgery among those aged 50 or over, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found those who stayed married were had a much higher chance of staying alive for two years than those who were divorced, separated or widowed.
The researchers aren't sure of what caused the difference among the 1,567 people they studied, but suggest doctors should pay particular attention to surgery patients who have gone through a marital breakup.
"These findings extend prior work suggesting postoperative survival advantages for married people and may relate to the role of social supports in influencing patients' choices of hospitals and their self-care," the authors write.
Marital status is a predictor of survival and functional recovery after cardiac surgery. Further research is needed to define the mechanisms linking marital status and postoperative outcomes.
That said, the difference in survival was only present between those who were married and those whose marriages had ended – for people who have never been married, their survival after surgery is similar to married people.