Married people make a speedier recovery after heart surgery in comparison with their single, divorced or widowed counterparts, a recent study has revealed.
Experts at the University of Pennsylvania came to this conclusion, and the findings were published on October 28 in the letters section of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
An analysis was conducted across 1,576 adults, aged 50 and upwards. 65% of them were married, 21% were widowed, 12% were separated or divorced, while 2% had never been married. All of the participants had required serious heart surgery, and had experienced different outcomes.
Researchers investigated how each of these patients had fared following surgery, in order to see if there was any link between overall recovery and marital status.
Interviews were carried out 4 times, between 2004 and 2010, and included questions regarding health, medical assistance and family structure.
Easily observable aspects related to daily routines, such as the ability to feed oneself, walk or dress oneself were also taken into account, to quantify the results.
It was discovered that subjects who were married made a speedier and easier recovery, in contrast with those who were unmarried.
In addition, those who didn’t have a spouse were up to 40% more at risk of dying or suffering some type of functional disability within the 2 years following their surgical procedure.
Approximately 19% of married subjects had been affected by such outcomes, in comparison with 29% of those who were separated or divorced, and 34% of those who were widowed.
Researchers therefore believe that being unmarried can be a risk factor when it comes to recovering following heart surgery, especially among older adults who need more time and effort to resume their former lives, unlike younger people.
The results aren’t necessarily surprising, according to Dr. Ashish Shah, Surgical Director of Vanderbilt’s Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support.
For instance, a study published in Match 2014 by experts at NYU Langone Medical Center has shown that having a husband or wife lowers the risk of heart disease by 12% for individuals under the age of 50, and by 5% for all age groups.
Other trials have also suggested that married people tend to fare better following cardiac surgery than those who are unattached. What is essential however is to identify the reasons why this happens, so that these effects can be countered.
“It’s not just about operating and getting a patient out of the hospital, but having a good quality of life and hopefully increasing longevity”, declared Dr. Aditya Bansal, cardiothoracic surgeon at John Oschner Heart & Vascular Institute, in New Orleans.
Lack of encouragement from a life partner might give patients a worse prognosis, and the presence of emotional stressors can lead to complications following surgery, researchers have revealed.
Depression is quite prevalent among those who have had serious surgical procedures, and being unmarried leaves people devoid of the support system they would require in order to regain their optimism and strength.
In contrast, having a spouse can help surgery patients follow required lifestyle changes, identify potentially dangerous symptoms, and keep track of their daily medication and periodic check-ups.
Therefore, it appears that greater assistance should be provided to those who are single, divorced or widowed, in order to reduce these disparities. Support should come from family, friends, religious communities and medical practitioners likewise.
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