Does a divorce increase your chances for a heart attack?
The 18-year study followed nearly 16,000 men and women, ages 45-80, who had been married at least once. The participants were interviewed every two years about their marital status and current health. One-third of the participants were divorced at least once during the study’s time span.
The study found women were slightly more affected than men, and are twice as likely to suffer from a heart attack after two or more divorces, than stably-married women. Divorced men typically have the same amount of risk as those who stay married, but their level of risk went up after two or more divorces.
“Divorce is a major stressor, and we have long known that people who are divorced suffer more health consequences,” said Mathew Dupre, the study’s lead author, in a news release. “But this is one of the first studies to look at the cumulative effect of divorce over a long period. We found that it can have a lasting imprint on people’s health.”
“Divorce is stressful for everyone,” says Dr. Kevin Krippner, a licensed clinical psychologist with Advocate Medical Group in Normal, Ill. “It has an impact on the people who are divorcing, as well as the children, family and friends involved.”
Dr. Krippner recommends several things to manage the stress that comes with divorce.
Dr. Krippner also recommends:
- Exercise, which can help reduce stress, in addition to other health benefits.
- Reach out to friends and family for support. Spend time with people in your life who care about you.
- Make a point of doing some fun things for yourself — not only as a distraction, but as a way of renewing your physical and emotional energy.
- Focus on the future and the positive things that will be happening in your life as a result of this change
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