A review of studies suggests that being married may actually reduce the risk of heart disease. Picture: Pexels.com

Being married may reduce the risk of heart disease and cardiovascular death, a review of studies has found.

Researchers pooled data on more than 2 million participants in 34 studies carried out in the United States, Britain, Japan, Russia, Sweden, Spain, Greece and eight other countries.

 They found that compared with married people, those who were unmarried — whether never married, widowed or divorced — were 42 percent more likely to have some form of cardiovascular disease and 16 percent more likely to have coronary heart disease. The unmarried also had a 43 percent increased likelihood of coronary heart disease death and a 55 percent increased risk for death from stroke. Stroke risk was increased for the unmarried and divorced, but not for the widowed.

 The authors acknowledge that the study, published in Heart, has several weaknesses. While most analyses adjusted for multiple variables, these varied across studies, and some factors were not accounted for, including financial stability, medication adherence and social support.

 “The extent of family support is challenging to determine,” said a co-author of the study, Dr. Chun Shing Kwok, a cardiologist at Keele University in England, “even if you capture the effect of cohabitation.”

 Is marriage more advantageous for men or for women? Kwok’s response was cautious. “Our findings suggest both men and women benefit from marriage,” he said.

New York Times