Does Divorce Increase The Risk Of Heart Attacks?

The results of a recent study suggest that heart attack survivors are at an increased risk of having another one if they are either divorced or have a low household income.

The study, conducted by Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden analysts, concentrated on nearly 30,000 participants, ages 40 to 74, a year after experiencing their first heart attack. The researchers made note of the patients' marital status, socioeconomic status, and education. The study followed the members for about four years.


The research findings, which are published online in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, revealed that people who were divorced were 18% more likely to have a second heart attack than married patients.

TAdditionally, participants with the highest household income were at a 35% lower risk of a second attack than those belonging to the lowest income bracket.

Education level also came into play. People who had at least 12 years of education were at a 14% lower risk of recurrence than the participants who had fewer than 10 years of education.


One of the interesting elements of the study had to do with gender. The researchers discovered that while unmarried women had a lower risk of a recurrent event, unmarried men had at a higher risk.

Additionally, men with a high socioeconomic status were linked to a lower risk of a second heart attack. However, there was no association found among women.


Dr. Joel Ohm, the author of the study, warned that these findings shouldn't necessarily be taken at face value, though.

"These findings should be interpreted cautiously," he said. "This was a subgroup analysis and we cannot conclude that women are better off being single and that men should marry and not divorce. Unmarried women had a higher level of education compared to unmarried men, and this difference in socioeconomic status may be the underlying cause."

"The take-home message from this study is that socioeconomic status is associated with recurrent events," Dr. Ohm explained. "No matter the reasons why, doctors should include marital and socioeconomic status when assessing a heart attack survivor's risk of a recurrent event. More intense treatment could then be targeted to high-risk groups."