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Married people have fewer heart attacks

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

February is heart awareness month, so this study caught my eye. A large population-based study from Finland, reported in European Society of Cardiology recently, shows that being unmarried increases the risk of fatal and non-fatal heart attacks in both men and women what ever their age.

The investigators also noted that being married, especially among middle-age couples, was associated with better prognosis of acute cardiac events before hospitalization and after reaching the hospital alive.

Even when the couple was cohabitating there was a better prognosis after coronary events before and after hospitalization. The 28-day mortality rates after heart attacks showed as much as 168% higher in unmarried men and 175% higher in unmarried women.

This study is significant for many reasons, but one of the reasons is because past research has not included data for women. Several studies have shown that marriage or living with someone is healthier for men, but this study suggests the same effects are there for women as well. 

The investigators of this study listed a few reasons couples had a better prognosis than single people. Suggestions such as maybe people with poor health status were more prone to staying unmarried or getting divorced.

Married people may be better off with better health habits and enjoy higher levels of social support than unmarried people. It may be due to the care given once the patient goes home. After all if you are married or living with a significant other, you are going to have someone who is invested in your care. 

Having someone who loves you and you love is much deeper than a feeling. Feelings of love change the chemistry of our brain and our bodies at a cellular level. Just as marriage can make you heart healthy, it can also make you feel more stressed if you aren't getting along.

I have seen unhealthy marriages in my practice that make couples physically sick. This study points out the significant health benefits, but it takes more than just saying "I Do." You need to work at keeping your marriage healthy. Below are ideas to help you keep your marriage healthy.

  1. Talk. Dance. Communicate any way you can. Being together and being friends is how all good relationships begin and become stronger. If you don't feel like your partner has your best interests at heart, you won't feel committed for life.
  2. Focus on behaving in a way you wouldn't be ashamed of if your spouse was there with you. You may feel great flirting and getting attention, but if your spouse were there would they feel proud of the way you were acting? Would they respect this part of you? Don't be one thing to your partner and another in your private life.
  3. Think kindness. Be kind. It's so easy to be grumpy or irritable. It is even easier when you are with someone for a longtime. That same person who vowed their life to you at the altar still gets a sparkle when you are kind to them.
  4. Think outside the box. Quit going back to what your parents did. You are creating a marriage and writing your own script. It can be wild, it can be crazy, and it can be fun! It doesn't have to be what your mom or dad thought best. At the end of your life you are not going to answer to your mother or father. It will be your choices you reflect on.
  5. Do one thing each day that you wish your partner would do for you. For example, women come into my office (with their husbands) and tell their husband (and me) how they never get flowers. When is the last time you sent your husband flowers? Guys don't like flowers? You better ask them. Most men love getting a card or flowers sent to them.
  6. Think you are too old, out of shape or busy to try that bicycle tour, or take that cooking class with your spouse? If you think you are, you are. The circumstances that prevent us from doing things together will never end. You have to value "us" enough to keep your relationship novel.  Life is about evolving and trying new things.
  7. Keep the bedroom a place for intimacy. All roads lead to intimacy in a marriage. No matter what the problem or what the crisis, if you have a partner you can lie next to and feel their warmth, connection and physical touch, you can get through it.
  8. Talk about your problems, but not too much. Talking and venting helps release issues, but unless there is a goal or plan,the issues are not resolved.
  9. Focus on the positives in your relationship. It is easy to look at any relationship and see the problems. At work, consultants get paid for this. Focusing on the positives is much more difficult, especially when we are feeling upset. When you focus on the positives it usually ends in a win/win. This is optimal especially when you compare it to a win/lose.
  10. Touch each other every day! No one thing is as important as touch. It doesn't have to be long, in public or sexual. It does have to be done in a way that communicates, "I am in this with you, and it's where I want to be."

If you practice these every day…you will have a healthy marriage and a grateful heart!

– Mary Jo Rapini

For more information or you FREEMONTHLY RELATIONSHIP TIPS: www.maryjorapini.com

Podcasts:

http://ustre.am/PLWS  Struggling with low libido in your relationship

Married with small children at home and keeping your relationship close http://traffic.libsyn.com/sexandintimacy/MJR_ep_01.mp3

Improving your body image http://traffic.libsyn.com/sexandintimacy/MJR_ep_04.mp3

Talk tome on my fan page: http://www.facebook.com/maryjorapini

Tweet me: @ Mary Jo Rapini

Join me weekday Mornings for "Mind, Body, Soul with Mary Jo" on Fox 26 Houston at 9 A.M.

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