Single heart disease patients are significantly more likely to die than those who are married, according to a study.

It found that overall their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease was 45 percent higher and from a heart attack 52 percent higher.

Breaking down the risk among different categories of single people, it was around 40 percent higher for those who had never been married or who were divorced or separated, but soared to 70 percent for those who had been widowed.

Researchers also found single heart disease patients faced a 24 percent higher risk of death from any cause.

The US study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, looked at more than 6,000 patients.

Lead researcher Professor Arshed Quyyumi, of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, expressed surprise at the findings, and said: ‘Social support provided by marriage, and perhaps many other benefits of companionship, are important for people with heart disease.’

The researchers suggested it may be important to consider marital status in treating coronary artery disease patients.