One’s health is influenced by many variables. Family medical history, environment, socioeconomic status, ethnicity and lifestyle are a few examples of factors that can influence one’s health. Another factor that may have an effect on a person’s health and well-being is their marital status. This paper examines the effect of marriage on the health status of men, particularly on the survival rate of heart disease and cancer, and the incidence of obesity or weight gain. Research suggests that married men receive noteworthy health benefits as a result of marriage, while women do not enjoy health benefits to the same extent. In general, married people have overall better health than those that are not married; they experience a lower mortality rate and better physical and mental health than their unmarried counterparts (Ross, Mirowsky, & Goldsteen, 1990). Despite these benefits, there is a surprising trend for both married men and women to gain weight upon entering a marriage (Sobal, Rauschenbach, & Frongillo, 2003).
Heart Disease Incidence, Presentation and Survival
Studies have indicated that men who are married are more likely to survive heart disease. One study of 3682 participants found that “married men compared with unmarried men were almost half as likely to die during follow-up” (Eaker, Sullivan, D, Agostino, & Benjamin, 2007). One interesting finding of this study was that men whose wives had a work life that was “disruptive” to family life were actually “2.7 times more likely to develop coronary heart disease.” This suggests that although marriage is associated with higher heart disease survival rate than unmarried men, the quality of marriage still has an impact on a man’s health.
One benefit of marriage that may be responsible for men’s higher survival rate is that men who are married are more likely to seek medical attention in a more timely manner compared with those that are unmarried (Atzema, et al., 2011). In this study, the researchers examined 4403 admitted hospital patients who had experienced a heart attack. They found that “being married was associated with lowered odds of delayed presentation.” Surprisingly, the study found that women did not enjoy this same benefit compared to men. This could be because wives might be more likely to encourage their spouse to seek immediate care, while men may not. This could be an area of interest for future research.
Research suggests that marriage may even lower the risk of men experiencing heart failure in the first place. A study of 2314 middle-aged men claims that being unmarried increased the risk for men to have heart failure (Ingelsson, Lind, Arnlov, & Sundstrom, 2006). Thus, men do not only go to the hospital sooner and survive heart failure at a higher rate; they also have a smaller risk of suffering heart failure.
The above research suggests that a marriage can have a positive effect on a man’s cardiovascular health, especially if it is a happy marriage. Additional research...