stressful marriage can jeopardize recovery from heart attack – Consumer Health News

MONDAY, Oct. 31, 2022 (HealthDay News) — A bad marriage can break your heart — literally.

Heart attack survivors in a stressful relationship are more likely to have a difficult recovery, a new study has found.

“We found that there is an independent association between severe marital stress and worse outcomes during their first year of recovery,” said lead researcher Cenjing Zhu, a doctoral candidate in chronic disease epidemiology at Yale School. of Public Health.

Compared to people in healthy relationships, heart patients under severe marital stress were 67% more likely to experience recurrent chest pain within the first year of recovery, Zhu and colleagues found.

Severe marital stress also increased a person’s chances of rehospitalization by almost 50% and affected their quality of life and health.

On a 12-item scale, for example, participants with severe marital stress scored 2.6 points lower in mental health and more than 1.6 points lower in physical health, compared to those reporting little or no stress.

Zhu is due to present the results Sunday at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting in Chicago.

The findings shed new light on the nuanced effect relationships can have on a person’s health, said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director of Atria New York City and clinical associate professor of medicine at NYU Grossman School. of Health.

“Previous marriage studies found that people in relationships had better heart health than those who weren’t in relationships,” said Goldberg, who was not part of the research. “But this study actually looks at relationship quality and the severe marital stress that plagues couples.”

For the study, Zhu and his colleagues followed nearly 1,600 American adults between the ages of 18 and 55 who were treated for a heart attack between 2008 and 2012. These people were located across the country and were all married or engaged. in a partnership.

Participants completed a 17-item questionnaire designed to assess marital stress and were categorized into three categories: mild or no stress, moderate stress, and severe stress. The researchers then followed them for up to a year to see how well they did.

More women than men reported marital stress. Nearly 4 in 10 women reported suffering from severe marital stress, compared to 3 in 10 men.

Patients should “be aware that marital stress in their lives could affect their recovery,” Zhu said.

People whose relationship stress is affecting their recovery from a heart attack should seek counseling and get “the help they need to reduce stress, anxiety or depression,” Goldberg said.

The stress of a bad marriage could affect recovery in several ways, she said.

The strain caused by a bad relationship “definitely has a negative impact on cardiovascular risk factors, especially with the increase in blood pressure, which makes it very difficult with someone who is very stressed or anxious to diet. medical or lifestyle program,” Goldberg said.

According to the American Heart Association, stress can destroy a person’s energy level and rob them of the sleep they need to recover. Stress has also been linked to irregular heart rate and rhythm, high blood pressure, digestive problems, inflammation, and reduced blood flow to the heart.

Disagreeing with a partner can also deprive a heart attack patient of the support they need during this critical time in their life, Goldberg added.

“When you’re someone who’s had a heart attack, you have to go on a medical diet, probably change the way you eat, quit smoking, and change your life,” she said. “But it’s a challenge if you’re not in a supportive environment.”

Physicians guiding a heart attack patient through recovery must consider their mental and emotional health as much as their physical health, Zhu and Goldberg said.

“Our results really underscore the importance of assessing daily stress, as it is currently not incorporated into routine screening,” Zhu said.

Goldberg agreed.

“It’s really important for clinicians, the people who are caring for the person who has had the heart attack, not only to address the traditional risk factors, but also to be aware of the mental health component in heart attack care. ‘a heart patient,'” Goldberg said. “Heart attack recovery isn’t just about the things we can do medically. It’s really time we understood that mental health is linked to our physical health.”

Results presented at medical meetings are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The American Heart Association says more about stress and heart health.

SOURCES: Cenjing Zhu, MPhil, doctoral candidate, chronic disease epidemiology, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Conn. ; Nieca Goldberg, MD, medical director, Atria New York City, and clinical associate professor, medicine, NYU Grossman School of Health, New York City; American Heart Association, press release, October 31, 2022

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