Ups and Downs in Marriage Affect Men's Heart Health
In a new study published in BMJ, researchers examined changes in cardiovascular risk factors in 620 married fathers taking part in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, which began in 1991, and discovered changes in marriage quality over time impact heart health in men.
For the study, the men completed a completed a questionnaire evaluating the quality of their marriage when their child was about three years old, and again when he or she was nine. The questionnaire was then used to rate the marital relationship as consistently good, consistently bad, improving, or deteriorating. Then, between 2011 and 2013 – when the children were about 19 years old – the researchers measured the fathers’ blood pressure, resting heart rate, body mass index (BMI), blood fat profile, and fasting glucose levels.
According to researchers, there was little change in cardiovascular risk factors in men whose marriages were consistently good or consistently bad; however, they detected a pattern of change in men whose marriages improved or deteriorated during the study. Improving marriages were associated with lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and blood pressure, improved total cholesterol, and healthier weight, while deteriorating marriages were associated with higher blood pressure.