Anyone dreaming of the single life, may want to think again.
Married people who have had a heart attack are far more likely to survive a second attack or stroke than divorcees, new research suggests.
It is the latest in a growing body of evidence which suggests wedlock provides significant health benefits, staving off everything from dementia to high blood pressure.
The study showed that unmarried and widowed patients had higher rates of recurrent events than married patients
Married people – such as Mr and Mrs Smith from the 2005 film – who have had a heart attack are far more likely to survive a second attack or stroke than divorcees
Scientists have argued that marriage is the ‘most fundamental’ form of social support because previous research has found it lowers the risk of dementia, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type two diabetes
Researchers followed more than 29,000 patients in Sweden, aged 40 to 76, who had a suffered a heart attack a year earlier and then tracked them over a period of four years.
It found those who were divorced were 18 percent more likely to suffer another heart attack, stroke or die from heart disease.
Those in more high income households and people who had spent longer in education were also more likely to avoid another episode.
Lead author Dr Joel Ohm, of the Karolinska Institute, said the findings were significant as it showed how follow-up care should not be ‘one size fits all’.
‘Nowadays all patients that have had a heart attack are considered to be equally high risk but this shows that it is not the case,’ he said.
‘Just as with primary prevention of heart attacks, the risk of a secondary episode varies from individual to individual.
‘More intense treatment could be targeted to high risk groups.’
Around 200,000 people a year in the UK suffer a heart attack and 70,000 die.
Of those who survive, around a quarter will suffer a second heart attack within five years.
The latest study looked at how levels of education affected outcomes. It found patients with more than 12 years of education had a 14 percent lower risk of a recurrent event than those with nine years or less.
It found that unmarried and widowed patients also had higher rates of recurrent events than married patients, although researchers stressed they were too small to be significant.
Scientists have previously called marriage the ‘most fundamental’ form of social support because previous research has found it also lowers the risk of dementia, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type two diabetes.
Experts believe those with a loving partner were more likely to be encouraged to look after themselves, keep fit, and take the necessary medication.
Dr Ohm added: ‘No matter the reasons why, doctors should include marital and socioeconomic status when assessing a heart attack survivor’s risk of a recurrent event.
‘More intense treatment could then be targeted to high risk groups.’