It’s said while love is blind, marriage is an eye-opener. However, research proves that it’s actually a life-saver. A recent study found that married individuals undergoing heart surgery are thrice as likely as single individuals having undergone the same surgery of surviving the first three months post-surgery.
“That’s a dramatic difference in survival rates for single people, during the most critical post-operative recovery period,” says Ellen Idler, a sociologist at Emory University and lead author of the study, which appears in the March issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. “We found that marriage boosted survival whether the patient was a man or a woman.”
While the most striking difference in outcomes occurred during the first three months, the study showed that the strong protective effect of marriage continues for up to five years following coronary artery bypass surgery. Overall, the hazard of mortality is nearly twice as great for unmarried as it is for married patients about to undergo the surgery.
“The married patients had a more positive outlook going into the surgery, compared with the single patients,” Idler says. “When asked whether they would be able to manage the pain and discomfort, or their worries about the surgery, those who had spouses were more likely to say, yes.”
Patients who survived more than three months were approximately 70 percent more likely to die during the next five years if they were single. An analysis of the data showed that smoking history accounted for the lower survival rates in the single patients over this longer term.
“The lower likelihood that married persons were smokers suggests that spousal control over smoking behavior produces long-term health benefits,” Idler says.
The next time you feel like making marriage the butt of jokes, remember this research.