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One Major Side Effect of Being Married, Study Says

Marriages can have serious health side effects.

Marriage is pretty good for your health. Studies have found that married people live longer and healthier lives than people who are unmarried, divorced or widowed. But there's one major exception to that rule; certain types of marriages can have serious side effects. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.


Troubled Marriages Cause Inflammation

woman suffering from pain in wrist at home.

Marriage can be a wonderful thing. But a stressful marriage can really wreck your heart. That's the conclusion of a recently published study in the journal Brain Behavior Immunity Health. "Troubled marriages pose proinflammatory threats that underlie cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes, and cancer," wrote the author. That's right—frequent marital conflict can lead to chronic inflammation, one of the most damaging conditions to overall health. 


Marriage Stress Releases More Stress Hormones 

Elderly couple arguing.

The study highlighted research that found:

  • Relationship stress can increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which has been linked to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and type 2 diabetes
  • Partners who were more negative during arguments had higher cortisol levels than their more positive counterparts
  • During arguments, hostile partners had higher blood pressure during conflict than their less hostile counterparts
  • Hostile partners had higher coronary artery calcification than those who were less hostile
  • Just being around a stressed-out partner can increase your cortisol levels

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How Marriage Stress Wrecks Your Health

Senior female gynecologist checking woman with blood pressure gauge in hospital.

"Exposure to marital stress causes the sympathetic nervous system to metabolize glucose and to induce the release of stress hormones," wrote the authors of a study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. "The release of stress hormones in turn increases blood pressure and heart rate, accelerates breathing, and constricts blood vessels. This 'fight or flight' process may increase allostatic load, cause wear and tear on the regulatory mechanisms of the human body, and lead to chronic conditions, such as hypertension and CVD [cardiovascular disease]."

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Previous Research Agrees

cardiac disease risk

Several studies have found that married people are less likely to develop heart disease than people who aren't, and married people with heart disease have better survival rates than singles. As long as your marriage is happy, that is.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that women who reported moderate to severe marital strain were 2.9 times more likely to need heart surgery, have heart attacks or die of heart disease than women who didn't have marriage stress. This finding was the same even after researchers adjusted for age, smoking habits, diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

And another study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that patients with the most severe heart disease and poorest marriages had the highest risk of dying over a four-year period. 

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How to Stay Safe Out There

The female doctor syringe injection to the young patient put on a mask in the hospital

Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael
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