February has been designated as Heart Awareness month. I’m not talking about hearts and flowers for Valentine’s Day, I’m talking about that big glorious muscle inside us that keeps us going. According to the CDC, about 1 in 4 deaths, or 600,000, that occur in the United States are caused by heart disease. Heart disease is currently the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. On top of those statistics, there are over 935,000 heart attacks that occur annually; of which 325,000 of those are repeat attacks.
So as a nation, what can we do to reduce our risk? According to a recent study conducted by researchers in Finland, if we aren’t already married, we should get married. This study followed both men and women across several age groups. It found the effects were highest among middle-aged men and women. So you may be asking why marriage would have this effect on heart attacks. Here’s what the researchers think:
- Single people are more likely to be in poor health. This can be attributed to the number of singles who may not have health insurance or those that are less likely to go to the doctor.
- Married people tend to have higher incomes which lead to better preventative care.
- Married people tend to have a stronger social support system than singles so if there is an illness, they have extra hands to help with recovery.
- Married people are also more likely to call an ambulance in case of emergency.
We regularly hear about medical steps that can be taken to decrease the risk of heart attacks. This research shows that environmental factors can also have an impact on our health. So if you are single, does this mean that you should run right out and pop the question to the next person you see? No, it doesn’t. It also does not mean that you should stay married just for your health. It really means that your relationships, both with your partner and with friends, and your environment impact your health. So whether you are currently single or married, why not improve your environment? Make some new friends or renew old friendships. It may just save your life.
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