As if divorce wasn't painful enough, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but a new study shows that divorce plays a significant role in determining a woman’s likelihood of getting a heart attack. Researchers found that divorced women are more likely to get heart attacks than those who stay married. All in all, heartbreak may literally break your heart.
In a study published by Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, Matthew Dupre, of the Duke Clinical Research Institute, and his colleagues collected data from adults, aged 45 to 80 years old, over a span of 18 years. Researchers tracked the adults' change in marital status over time. At baseline, some were divorced, some were married and some were already remarried.
Their study found that women who experienced a divorce were 24 percent more likely to get a heart attack over women who did not. Women who experienced multiple divorces in their lifetime had a 77 percent chance of getting a heart attack. And women who remarried? They had a 35 percent chance of getting a heart attack. As for currently divorced women, they had a 36 percent chance of getting a heart attack.
For the men, they had a 30 percent chance of getting a heart attack if they experienced two or more divorces in their lifetime.
Even after adjusting for the typical causes of heart attacks, such as age, body mass index, diabetes, and social factors, the findings stayed the same.
"We looked at lifetime exposure to not only current marital status, but how many times someone has been divorced in the past. What we found was that repeated exposure to divorce put men and women, but particularly women, at a higher risk of having a heart attack compared to those who were married," Dupre said. "The health consequences of social stresses are real."
Divorces are stressful and previous research has shown links between increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and poor heart health. By including divorce as a potential health risk, doctors can use this information to carefully monitor a patient's risk of a heart attack and provide them with the necessary treatment.
Or, you can always find a healthy way to deal with all that divorce stress by exercising, talking it out with friends, or even just reading a book or two.