Marital history and survival after a heart attack.

TitleMarital history and survival after a heart attack.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsDupre, ME, Nelson, A
JournalSoc Sci Med
Date Published2016 12
ISSN Number1873-5347
KeywordsAged, Aged, 80 and over, Cohort Studies, Divorce, Female, Humans, Male, Marital Status, Myocardial Infarction, Prospective Studies, Retrospective Studies, Single Person, Spouses, Survivors, United States, Widowhood

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and nearly one million Americans will have a heart attack this year. Although the risks associated with a heart attack are well established, we know surprisingly little about how marital factors contribute to survival in adults afflicted with heart disease. This study uses a life course perspective and longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study to examine how various dimensions of marital life influence survival in U.S. older adults who suffered a heart attack (n = 2197). We found that adults who were never married (odds ratio [OR] = 1.73), currently divorced (OR = 1.70), or widowed (OR = 1.34) were at significantly greater risk of dying after a heart attack than adults who were continuously married; and the risks were not uniform over time. We also found that the risk of dying increased by 12% for every additional marital loss and decreased by 7% for every one-tenth increase in the proportion of years married. After accounting for more than a dozen socioeconomic, psychosocial, behavioral, and physiological factors, we found that current marital status remained the most robust indicator of survival following a heart attack. The implications of the findings are discussed in the context of life course inequalities in chronic disease and directions for future research.

User Guide Notes

Alternate JournalSoc Sci Med
Citation Key8696
PubMed ID27770749
PubMed Central IDPMC5127274
Grant ListK01 HL114750 / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
R03 AG042712 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States