When it comes to divorce, the woman's heart health is more negatively affected than the man's.
Researchers say that the psychological stress of a divorce can have serious physical effects on the heart, especially for women. Women who were divorced at least one time in their lives were 24% more likely to suffer from a heart attack than women who remained married. Those women who were divorced two or more times had a 77% risk. In a study published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, researchers found that men did not experience these similar risks. In fact, only men who have been divorced two or more times in their lives had an increased risk of heart attack. If men remarried, their heart attack risk didn't increase, while for women who remarried, their chances of suffering from a heart attack remained higher, at 35%, than that of divorced women.
The researchers adjusted the study for potential contributors to heart attack, including age, social factors such as changes in occupation and job status and health insurance coverage, and psychological factors that included BMI, hypertension and diabetes.
These are the first results to ever track people for a longer period of time-18 years-that captured the overall effects of marital status. The study found that dramatic life changes like divorce signal an end to the relationship as well as stable financial and social circumstances, which can spike hormone cortisol, increasing blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Understanding your risk is important. If you are concerned about your heart attack risk, see your doctor to discuss your risk and what you can do to prevent a heart attack.