Men dissatisfied with their marriage at higher risk of sudden cardiac death
Middle-aged Caucasian men who are dissatisfied with their marriage are at higher risk of sudden cardiac death regardless of other cardiovascular risk factors, a new study reports.
Using a self-administered questionnaire, researchers evaluated the perceived level of marriage satisfaction in 2,262 men (mean age 53.0±5.2 years). Most (55.2 percent; n=1,249) were fairly satisfied with their marriages, while 39.6 percent (n=896) were very satisfied. A small percentage (5.2 percent; n=117) reported dissatisfaction.
Over a median follow-up period of 25.9 years, 239 cases of sudden cardiac death were reported. Adjusting for conventional risk factors, such as smoking, diabetes mellitus and alcohol drinking, men who were dissatisfied with their marriage were almost twice as likely to die of sudden cardiac death than their counterparts who were very satisfied (hazard ratio [HR], 1.90; 95 percent CI, 1.09–3.32; p=0.02). The same was true for those who were fairly satisfied (HR, 1.41; 1.07–1.86; p=0.02).
Further adjustments for ischaemic heart disease, years of education and socioeconomic status did not meaningfully alter the findings. Those who were only fairly satisfied (HR, 1.39; 1.06–1.84; p=0.02) and dissatisfied (HR, 1.86; 1.07–3.25; p=0.03) with their marriage were at significantly higher risk of sudden cardiac death than those who were very satisfied.
Though the exact mechanisms underlying the relationship between marriage satisfaction and sudden cardiac death risk are still unknown, researchers proposed that negative adaptive behaviours such as smoking might play a role.
The present findings also indicate that healthcare professionals may need to screen for marriage satisfaction during risk stratification of men with pre-existing cardiovascular diseases, researchers added.