Heart diseases more in depressed women in strained marriages

Women in strained marriages are more likely to feel depressed and suffer high blood pressure, obesity and other signs of “metabolic syndrome,” a group of risk factors for heart disease, stroke and diabetes, University of Utah psychologists found.

The same study found men in strained marriages also are more likely to feel depressed, yet ? unlike women ? do not face an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by five symptoms: hypertension, obesity around the waistline, high blood sugar, high triglycerides and low levels of HDL, which is “good cholesterol.”

“We hypothesized that negative aspects of marriages like arguing and being angry would be associated with higher levels of metabolic syndrome,” says the study’s first author, Nancy Henry, a doctoral student in psychology. “We further anticipated that this relationship would be at least partly due to depressive symptoms.”

“In other words, those who reported experiencing more conflict, hostility and disagreement with their spouses would more depressed, which in turn would be associated with a higher risk of heart disease due to metabolic syndrome,” she adds

“We found this was true for wives in this study, but not for husbands,” says Henry, who was scheduled to present the findings Thursday, March 5 in Chicago during the American Psychosomatic Society’s annual meeting.

“The gender difference is important because heart disease is the number-one killer of women as well as men, and we are still learning a lot about how relationship factors and emotional distress are related to heart disease,” she says.

Source: University of Utah, USA

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