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Study on divorce and heart attack risk gives a grim diagnosis

20182147_S.jpgWe have previously warned readers that studies about marriage, divorce, custody and other family law issues must be taken with a grain of salt. On one hand, the findings are usually interesting. On the other hand, study results don't apply to all cases and may not be all that helpful.

A recent study seems to be an example. Researchers attempted to determine what effects divorce might have on a person's health, specifically their heart health. The study revealed that divorce can increase the risk of a heart attack for both genders, but especially so for women.

According to the study results, women who got a divorce had a heart attack risk 24 percent higher than women who had stayed continuously married. A separate news article in the New York Times reported that "In men, only those who had divorced more than once had an increased risk of about 30 percent. Men who stayed married or who remarried had no increased risk."

Researchers apparently controlled for other heart disease risk factors including smoking, diet, exercise and weight. They can't determine exactly why there is a correlation between divorce and heart attack risk, but stress is a common theory. It could be the stress caused by tension in the relationship or stress caused by loneliness and grief.

So what advice can readers draw from these study results? Unfortunately, not much. Getting a divorce may be stressful enough to contribute to heart disease, but it seems safe to assume that staying in a bad marriage would yield similar results.

If anything, this study is a reminder that how you divorce is important to your short-term and long-term health and wellbeing. Anyone going through a divorce should seek out social support and healthy coping mechanisms.

Source: Forbes, "Divorce Could Literally (Eventually) Break A Woman's Heart, Says Study," Tara Haelle, April 14, 2015

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