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Last Updated: Friday, 18 February 2005, 08:58 GMT
Marital rowing 'good for wives'
A stressed woman
Women who stay silent during rows 'risk health', experts say
Women who argue with their husbands are warding off heart disease and other causes of death, researchers believe.

The Journal of the American Heart Association reported wives who kept quiet during conflict were four times as likely to die of heart disease.

And women whose work had a disruptive effect on their home lives were twice as likely to develop the condition.

But UK heart disease experts said the findings should be treated with a "pinch of salt".

The researchers studied 3,700 people in Framingham, Massachusetts, over a 10-year period.


The joint Boston University and Wisconsin-based Eaker Epidemiology Enterprises team also found that marriage suited men, as husbands only had half the chance of dying from heart disease as unmarried men.

Lead researcher Elaine Eaker said doctors should be looking for signs of marital stress to refer patients for counselling.

"We believe we have found characteristics of marriages that have an impact on people's health and longevity.

"While medical care providers are not specifically trained to intervene on psychosocial issues such as marital characteristics, they may be the most likely contact to observe or uncover these characteristics or emotions."

Emotional factors may trigger heart attacks in people who already have advanced underlying heart disease
Dr Charmaine Griffiths, of the British Heart Foundation

A second study of 35,000 women by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, published in the same journal, looked at the link between cardiovascular disease and work.

It found unemployed women who were looking for work reported the worst physical health, with nearly a third having high blood pressure and 6% suffering a heart attack, stroke or chest pain.

Employed women had the best health with only one in five having high blood pressure and 2% having cardiovascular disease.

Women who do not work and were not looking for work had a similar level of blood pressure but slight higher rates of cardiovascular disease.

Researcher Sheree Marshall-Williams said the increased risk of heart problems in unemployed women was caused by the "social stress in response to being laid off and not being able to locate a job".

Heart disease

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, of the British Heart Foundation, said: "Stressful experiences in life appear to influence heart disease in two ways.

"First, we know that over the long-term, factors like chronic work stress and living a socially isolated life increases our risk of coronary heart disease.

"Second, emotional factors may trigger heart attacks in people who already have advanced underlying heart disease."

But Sir Alexander Macara, of the National Heart Forum, said the research should be treated with a "pinch of salt".

"We need to remind ourselves that we self-select into certain groups.

"People who choose to get married have different characteristics from those who do not. So they may be more or less at risk of developing health problems.

"We cannot be sure that the research is comparing 'like with like'."

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14 Jan 05 |  Health
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10 Jan 05 |  Merseyside


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