Oct 18, 2018 | Updated: 04:34 PM EDT

Divorce Linked to an Increased Risk of Heart Disease in Women

Apr 15, 2015 08:30 PM EDT

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The number one cause of death in the United States is coronary heart disease, according to recent statistics. The risk factors that are most often associated with this disease include high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes. And according to a new study, women who have gone through a divorce are more likely to suffer from heart disease. 

In a new study looking at heart disease in correlation with other factors including depression, income, use or abuse of alcohol, weight and marital status, researchers found that people who go through multiple divorces have a higher risk of developing heart disease. However, while the risk to men can improve if they remarry, a woman's risk does not.

Dr. Sarah Samaan, an expert in cardiology at Baylor Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas and one of the researchers involved in the study, explained that the recent findings should make doctors take into consideration other risk factors for heart disease in women, like divorce.

Dr. Samaan said that divorce in some cases leads to loneliness, which is one of the risk factors responsible for heart disease. But the new study reveals that women who divorced but remarried are still at risk. In order to come to this conclusion, the study involved more than 16,000 adults, between the ages 45 to 65. The researchers followed these adults for approximately 18 years.

All the participants in the study had been married at least once with a third of participants having been divorced at least once. Of the participants, 19 percent of women and 14 percent of men were divorced at the time the study began. The study showed that 8 percent of the participants who had been divorced suffered a heart attack, compared to those that were still married.

After taking into account other risk factors that can influence the onset of heart disease, researchers found that women who had been divorced at least once were 24 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack, compared to women who were still married. The study also found that if women remarried after their first divorce, they still had a 35% chance of having a heart attack.

The outlook, while somewhat better than men, still showed an increase risk for men, as well. Men were able to lower their risk of suffering a heart attack, but men who had been divorced at least twice were 30 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack, according to the study's results.

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