Marital history and survival after a heart attack.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

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.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Dupre, ME; Nelson, A

Published Date

  • December 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 170 /

Start / End Page

  • 114 - 123

PubMed ID

  • 27770749

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC5127274

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-5347

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.10.013


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England