Your gender and marital status hold telling clues about your risk of dying of heart disease, a large British study suggests.
It found that widowed and divorced men have significantly higher odds of death due to heart disease than women of the same marital status. But single men are more likely to survive heart failure than single women.
Compared to widows, men whose spouses die have an 11% higher risk of death after a heart attack. Widowers with heart failure are also 10% more likely to die; and widowers with atrial fibrillation or a-fib, an abnormal heart rhythm, are 13% more likely to die, the study found.
Similarly, divorced men with a-fib have a 14% higher risk of death than divorced women. Even among married people with a-fib, that risk was 6% higher for men.
But single men with heart failure actually had a 13% lower risk of death compared to single women.
"These findings suggest that widowed or divorced men, and single women, may be most in need of support in order to help minimize their individual risk of dying from these conditions," Metin Avkiran, associate director of the British Heart Foundation, said in a foundation news release.
The findings come from an analysis of marital status and death rates of more than 1.8 million people treated for heart disease in Northern England between 2000 and 2014.
Lead author Dr. Rahul Potluri is a clinical lecturer in cardiology at Aston Medical School in Birmingham. He said when it comes to heart disease, focusing solely on a patient's medical problem is not enough.
"It's important we look into providing holistic care and explore other factors, such as their support network, which can also have a big impact on a person's health," Potluri said in the news release.
He and his colleagues discussed their findings Tuesday at a meeting of the British Cardiovascular Society, in Manchester. Research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The American Heart Association offers more details about heart disease.