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'Marital strain' increases women's risk of death, heart disease

ORLANDO, Feb. 17 Married women who avoid conflict with their spouses have an increased risk of dying from any cause, researchers report today at the Second International Conference on Women, Heart Disease and Stroke.

Researchers also found that men whose wives' come home upset with work outside the home have an increased risk of developing heart disease.

Researchers examined information on participants of the Framingham Offspring Study, a large, ongoing community study that tracks the incidence and prevalence of cardiovascular disease and other social and demographic characteristics such as marital strain in the Framingham, Mass., community.

Previous studies have shown a link between levels of marital strain and the health of people with heart disease. However, few studies have looked into the effects of marital strain on contributing to heart disease or death from any cause, said Elaine D. Eaker, Sc.D., president of Eaker Epidemiology Enterprises, LLC, in Chili, Wis., and principal investigator of the ancillary study of the Framingham Offspring Study.

Together with researchers from Boston University, Eaker collected data that analyzed marital discord. They determined traditional measures (satisfaction and disagreements) and more contemporary ones (conflict resolution and other interpersonal communication issues).

The study included 1,769 men and 1,913 women between ages 18 and 77. Researchers conducted the baseline examinations from 198487. Of these participants, 1,493 men and 1,501 women were married or "living in a marital situation." The researchers tracked the health of the participants for 10 years to determine if they developed heart disease or died.

"Married men were heavier, older, and had higher blood pressure and a less favorable lipid profile compared to unmarried men," Eaker said. "Unmarried men were more likely to be smokers."

After the researchers made statistical adjustments for age, systolic blood p
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Contact: Carole Bullock
carole.bullock@heart.org
214-706-1279
American Heart Association
17-Feb-2005


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