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The Heart Of The Matter

The Heart Of The Matter

Marriage Quality and Heart Health

According to a new study published in the June 24th issue of Psychosomatic Medicine, marriage quality can influence your risk of cardiovascular disease.

One in a growing list of findings linking emotional well-being with physical well-being, the new study authored by Thomas Kamarck, professor of psychology at University of Pittsburgh analyzed 282 healthy, middle-aged couples who were either married or living together in marital-like relationships.

Over a period of four days, each couple was monitored hourly, both by researchers and with self-reporting. The results of this provided a comprehensive view as to the positivity or negativity each couple experienced, on average. Additionally, researchers checked each participant for early warning signs of increased heart disease risk.

The result? Those couples who had more positive interactions with their spouses were significantly less likely to develop cardiovascular disease. How significant? 8.5% to be precise.

Now, before you point a finger and claim your spouse REALLY IS trying to kill you, let's widen the scope a little. Similar studies have already been done across a variety of related factors. The general consensus is that anxiety and stress are major killers.

What can stress do to your body?

Increased blood pressure, headaches, diabetes and heart problems have all been linked to stress. Of those with chronic, untreated reactions to stress, over 50% are statistically likely to develop an emotional disorder, which can in turn wreak even more havoc on the body’s physical health. Depression alone is in a class by itself.

People with heart disease are significantly more likely to also suffer from depression. While we still cannot identify the precise physiological reasons this occurs, it has been shown that depression has strong ties with angina and heart attacks. It has also been shown that a history of depression makes you more statistically likely to have Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia later in life.

Scary stuff. And if you are one of millions dealing with depression right now, these points probably aren’t helping you feel any better about it.

There is good news, however.

Knowing just how powerful an effect stress, anxiety, negativity and depression can have on your physical health now and mental health later gives you a great and powerful reason to ACT!

Everyone’s situation is different - but for most, there are available options to help cope with stress, depression and much more. Just as it’s never too late to start improving your physical health, it’s also never too late to start taking care of your mental and emotional health as well.

Further, did you know that increased physical activity and exercise can alleviate depression with just as much success as many prescription medications? Being active – walking, running, biking and so much more – has an immediate and powerful effect on your state of mind. If you don’t believe me, go out for night time walk / run / jog after a particularly stressful day. You’ll be amazed at how the worries, the fear, the anxiety all melts away as you soak up the cool night air and see the world from a completely different perspective than you usually would.

So remember – anger really can hurt you, love really can heal you, and doing something positive in one aspect of your life can have incredible benefits across all the others.

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