Married couples have the same risk of suffering a heart attack

Married couples are equally at risk of having a heart attack or stroke due to shared unhealthy habits like smoking, bad diet and inadequate exercise, study finds

  • American researchers looked at the heart health and risk of 5,000 couples 
  • Found that most couples have the same level of risk when it comes to ill health 
  • In 79 per cent of relationships, both people fall into the ‘non-ideal’ category for heart health

Married couples vow to share everything, and new research has found this involuntarily stretches to their heart health. 

A study of more than 5,000 US-based couples found that in 79 per cent of relationships, both people fall into the ‘non-ideal’ category for heart health. 

On the whole, couples also share the same risk factors, which can make events such as a stroke or heart attack more likely.  

This is due to both people falling into an unhealthy routine with poor diet and inadequate levels of exercise.  

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Married couples vow to share everything and new research has found this involuntarily stretches to their heart health (stock)

The researchers say the importance of the other partner in a relationship cannot be underestimated when it comes to ensuring a healthy heart.  

‘We expected to see some shared risk factors, but it was a surprise to see that the vast majority of couples were in a non-ideal category for overall cardiovascular health,’ says Dr Samia Mora of the Brigham And Women’s Hospital in Boston. 

Researchers quizzed people on their lifestyle and noted smoking status, BMI, physical activity, diet, total cholesterol, blood pressure and fasting glucose levels. 

Each participant also received a comprehensive check-up, including a cardiovascular health score. 

There are three possible categorisations for heart health, the researchers say, these are ideal, intermediate or poor. 


Marriage prevents death from heart disease, research has revealed.

A study published in August 2017 found that married people are 14 percent more likely to survive a heart attack than those who are single.

This is thought to be due to spouses nagging each other to live a healthy lifestyle, the research adds.

Husbands and wives can also be relied upon to remind the other to take their medication and generally help them to cope with their condition, researchers said.

Lead author Dr Paul Carter, from Aston University in Birmingham, said: ‘Marriage, and having a spouse at home, is likely to offer emotional and physical support on a number of levels.’

Only 12 percent of individuals were in the ideal category for heart health score and 79 percent of couples were classed as ‘non-ideal’ when considered as a pair. 

When scientists assessed both people in a relationship together, they found that around half the time both people had the same risk factors. 

The researchers attribute this to similar habits, hobbies and activity levels for both members of a couple. 

This was also replicated when one person made a dramatic change which impacted on their risk and heart health. 

For example, when one person quit smoking, lost weight, increased their physical activity or improved their diet, the other partner was also more likely to do so. 

‘Our data suggest that risk factors and behaviours track together for couples,’ said Dr Mora. 

‘Rather than thinking about interventions for individuals, it may be helpful to think about interventions for couples or whole families.

‘And it’s important for people to think about how their health and behaviours may influence the health of the person(s) they are living with. Improving our own health may help others.’ 

The full findings are published in JAMA Network Open. 

Previous research has found being married or in a relationship is better for health. 

For example, a 2018 study found divorcees are 47 per cent more likely to die prematurely.

Separating from a spouse increases people’s risk of passing away early due to them being more likely to take up smoking and no longer exercising, a study found 

They are thought to adopt these habits as a result of them having less life satisfaction, the research adds.

Other research suggests people are more likely to die young after getting divorced due to them no longer having a spouse who nags them to lead healthy lifestyles.

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