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New research, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, indicates that divorced women are 60 percent more likely to suffer heart disease than those who remain married.
The new findings are part of a large health and lifestyle survey conducted over a course of a decade that involved more than 10,000 interviews with middle-aged men and women.
Researchers at the University of Texas found that over the 10-year period, more than one-tenths of survey participants, or 1,030 people, developed some form of cardiovascular disease.
According to the study, 11.6 percent of divorced women had heart disease compared to only 8.7 percent of married women. The study also suggests that finding new happiness and getting remarried doesn’t do much to reduce the risk of developing health problems. Almost 11 percent of remarried women in the survey had heart disease.
Furthermore, cardiovascular risks significantly increased with age. About 11 percent of 51-year-old divorcees and 9.8 percent of remarried women had heart disease compared to 7.3 percent of continually married women.
Experts believe that the high emotional stress of a marital breakdown combined with social and financial transitions can trigger serious mental and physical problems in women, significantly heightening their risk of heart disease.
Men, however, appeared to be unaffected by divorce. “Our results reveal that women with a marital loss have a higher risk of disease in late-midlife compared to continuously married women, whereas marital loss is not associated with men’s risk,” said a spokesman for the University of Texas. “Women tend to value themselves more in terms of family relationships…whereas men value themselves primarily in terms of their occupation.”
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