Happily ever after in addition to ‘in sickness and in health’ aren’t just words to come by. For heart surgery patients, they are the essence of life it seems. New research indicates that married people have better recovery chances post heart surgery.
This finding relates to better care and improved life quality provided by a spouse. The study, conducted by researchers with the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine is published in the letters section of the JAMA Surgery.
Alternatively, the researchers found that patients who undergo heart surgery and who are separated, divorced or widowed have 40 percent more chances to develop new complications following the surgical intervention.
Previous studies have already underlined the support system that marriage may offer when health is dwindling with one of the partners. Loving spouses will react promptly to any changes in one’s health, will encourage a healthier lifestyle and will be there as vows says ‘in sickness and in health’.
Doctor Rachel M. Werner and Doctor Mark D. Neuman of the Perelman School of Medicine took previous studies one step further. They decided to study the link between surgical recovery and the patients’ marital status.
To do so, they recruited 1,576 patients from the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study. The latter began in 1998 and counts more than 29,000 participants, all aged 50 or above.
With the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study, participants underwent interviews regularly, assessing their medical care, family relations, overall health. Interviews take place every two years.
For the recent study, the research team selected 1,576 participants. Part of the participants underwent heart surgery since the date of their last interview. Another group had passed away. Proxies reported on their heart surgery experience.
Within the large group, 65 percent of the participants were married. Another 12 percent had separated from their spouses or were divorced. While 2 percent had never married, 21 percent reported being widowed.
After analysing data on all patients, the research team concluded that marital status is a strong indicator of the risk a heart surgery patients is subject to. Married people have better recovery chances post heart surgery. The chances that death, a new medical complication or functional disability occurs within two years post surgery are higher for separated, divorced or widowed surgical intervention patients.
Marital status is a strong indicator of survival, as well as functional recovery for heart surgery patients. At the same time, it acts as good risk indicator, helping physicians develop more adequate support systems after cardiac intervention.
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