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A study published in the recent issue of Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that close relationships that are negative—including bad marriages—more than triple the risk of heart problems.
The results reinforce “a well-known fact that lack of emotional and psychological support may increase the risk of heart disease,” said Cathy Ross, a cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation.
Researchers began their study in the 1980s when they asked 9,000 British civil servants to complete questionnaires about their close relationships. Twelve years later, the researchers followed up with the study participants and discovered that those who reported conflict in their close relationships were 34 percent more likely to have heart problems.
The authors of the study attributed their findings to the “wear and tear” that stress and emotional fluctuations can take on the organs.
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According to University of Pennsylvania psychology professor James Coyne, the results “make intuitive sense.” However, in light of the findings, he said, “it is still not clear what to recommend.”
“Do we tell people who have negative relationships to get therapy? They may have other reasons to do so, but I see no basis for them doing so only to avoid a heart attack,” he said.
Divorce may not be the answer either, Coyne said, since being single has been linked to its own health problems.
(Source: Associated Press)
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