Of course a bad marriage can cause a headache–but how about high blood pressure, obesity and other signs of “metabolic syndrome”? A new University of Utah study published this week shows that women in strained marriages are indeed more likely to face an increased risk of metabolic syndrome.
Yet the study which focused on the role of marriage quality and heart disease found that while men in strained marriages felt more depressed–unlike women, they do not face an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by five symptoms: Hypertension, obesity around the waistline, high blood sugar, high triglycerides and low levels of HDL (“good cholesterol”).
“The gender difference is important because heart disease is the number-one killer of women as well as men, and we are still learning a lot about how relationship factors and emotional distress are related to heart disease,” says the study’s first author, Nancy Henry.
“We know from previous research that women are more sensitive and responsive to relationship problems than men,” Henry says. “The results of this study suggest those problems could harm their health. Understanding the emotional and relationship health of couples can be an important overall factor in understanding physical health. Improving aspects of intimate relationships might help your emotional and physical well-being.”
Looks like whoever coined the term “broken heart” may have been spectacularly insightful. For more about marriage and health-boosting, see: