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Can Divorce Increase Your Risk of a Heart Attack?

We have posted several blogs on this site about the impact of divorce on one’s health. Now, a new study reveals that people who divorce have an increased risk of heart attack as compared to those who remain married. Study Ties Divorce to Higher Chance of Heart Attack, by Amy Norton, health.usnews.com, April 14, 2015. In that study, 16,000 adults aged 45 to 80, all of whom were either married, widowed, or once divorced, were followed over 20 years. The results were clear that those who had divorced (either before or during the study) had a higher heart attack risk.

The findings seem to be particularly alarming for women. Specifically, women who had been through one divorce “were one-quarter more likely to have a heart attack, while those who had gone through multiple divorces faced a 77 percent higher heart attack risk.” In addition, remarriage does not seem to help heart health in women as they were still 35% more likely to have a heart attack than women who never divorced at all. Conversely, men’s heart attack risk only increased after being divorced multiple times and, once these men remarried, their risk increase went away.

While the divorce itself may not cause people to have heart attacks, other issues that come along with a divorce can contribute to the decrease in heart health – depression, financial and/or emotional stress and letting go of healthy habits, such as balanced eating and regular doctor check ups, that a person may be more likely to continue when they are accountable to a partner. Thus, going through the trauma of a divorce may impact the heart in many ways. For these reasons, it is imperative that you take some time for yourself during and after a divorce. Take some time to be selfish and focus on yourself – make sure you are eating healthy and visiting any necessary medical professionals. Find a stress release, such as yoga or reading, or just spend time with people who love you doing things that you enjoy. Even though you may no longer be accountable to another person, you can be accountable to yourself to make sure you do not become one of these statistics.

 

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