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Dissatisfaction with married life will increase males’s threat of loss of life from stroke and untimely mortality

Dissatisfaction with married life increases the risk of dying from a cerebrovascular accident: a new study from Tel Aviv University shows that the perception of marriage as failed is a significant predictor of death from CVA and premature death in men, no less as known risk factors such as smoking and sedentary lifestyle. The study was based on extensive health data from more than 30 years of research tracking the deaths of 10,000 Israeli men.

The study was led by researchers from the School of Public Health of the Sackler Medical Faculty of Tel Aviv University: Prof. Uri Goldbort from the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, who initiated and directed the long-term study; Dr. Shahar Lev-Ari, the head of the health promotion department; and Dr. Yiftah Gapner, from the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine. The article was published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.

As part of the study, researchers performed statistical analysis of a database that began collecting data in the 1960s and tracked the health and behavior of 10,000 men, all Israeli government employees, for 32 years, with particular attention to deaths from stroke and death premature death in general. At the start of the study, most of the participants were around 40 years old. Since then, 64 percent have died from a number of diseases. “We wanted to analyze the collected data with various parameters in the longitudinal section in order to identify behavioral and psychosocial risk factors that can predict death from CVA and premature death for any reason,” explains Dr. Lev-Ari.

The researchers say that at the start of the 32-year-old study, participants in the longitudinal study were asked to rate their marital satisfaction on a scale from 1 (marriage is very successful) to 4 (marriage is unsuccessful).

To the researchers’ surprise, the analysis showed that this scale was a predictive factor for life expectancy, similar to smoking and sedentary lifestyle. For example, the number of deaths after a stroke was 69 percent higher among those who rated their marital satisfaction at 4 (i.e. marriage is unsuccessful) compared to those who rated their marital satisfaction very high – 40.6 deaths for the very Dissatisfied compared to 24.0 for the very satisfied. (Statistical evaluation: see footnote)

For deaths from any cause, the gap was 19 percent in favor of the happily married. The data show that among the unhappily married there were 295.3 deaths from any cause (see footnote 1), compared with only 248.5 among the very happily married (see footnote 1). The researchers note that the gaps were even larger in men who were relatively young (under 50) at the start of the study.

In addition, the researchers performed a statistical analysis of all known risk factors that contribute to death from cardiovascular disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, excessive BMI, and socioeconomic status. Here, too, the data was very surprising. It turns out that the relative risk of dying for any reason was 1.21 higher among the unhappily married compared to the happily married among those dissatisfied with their marriage. These rates are similar to data in the literature on smokers and people who lead a sedentary lifestyle.

Dr. Lev-Ari summarizes: “Our study shows that the quality of marriage and family life has health effects on life expectancy. Men who said they felt their marriages failed died earlier than those who experienced their marriages very successful, marriage satisfaction has been found to be a predictive factor of life expectancy, those with smoking (smoker vs. non-smoker) and Physical activity (activity vs. inactivity) is comparable in relatively young men under 50. The gap is narrower as we age, possibly due to adjustment processes that life partners go through over time. These findings are in line with other studies that assess the effectiveness of Education programs have shown promoting good civil partnerships as part of a national strategy to promote health and well-being for the general public. “


Journal reference:

Lev-ari, S., et al. (2021) Dissatisfaction with married life in men is related to increased stroke and all-cause mortality. Journal of Clinical Medicine. doi.org/10.3390/jcm10081729.

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