Marital Status, Cardiovascular Diseases, and Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Review of the Evidence

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2017 Jun;26(6):624-632. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2016.6103. Epub 2017 Jan 27.


Background: There is evidence showing that marital status (MS) and marital disruption (i.e., separation, divorce, and being widowed) are associated with poor physical health outcomes, including for all-cause mortality. We checked for the available evidence on the association between MS and cardiovascular (CV) diseases, outcomes, and CV risk factors.

Methods: A search across the PubMed database of all articles, including the term "marital status" in their title, was performed. All articles were then manually checked for the presence of the following terms or topic: CV diseases, acute myocardial infarction, acute coronary syndrome, coronary artery disease, cardiac arrest, heart failure, heart diseases, and CV mortality. Moreover, other search terms were: CV risk factors, hypertension, cholesterol, obesity, smoking, alcohol, fitness and/or physical activity, and health. Systematic reviews, meta-analyses, controlled trials, cohort studies, and case-control studies were potentially considered pertinent for inclusion. Case reports, comments, discussion letters, abstracts of scientific conferences, articles in other than English language, and conference abstracts or proceedings were excluded.

Results: In total, 817 references containing the title words "marital status" were found. After elimination of articles dealing with other topics, 70 records were considered pertinent. Twenty-two were eliminated for several reasons, such as old articles, no abstract, full text unavailable, other than English language, comments, and letters. Out of the remaining 48 articles, 13 were suitable for the discussion, and 35 (accounting for 1,245,967 subjects) were included in this study.

Conclusions: Most studies showed better outcomes for married persons, and men who were single generally had the poorest results. Moreover, being married was associated with lower risk factors and better health status, even in the presence of many confounding effects.

Keywords: cardiovascular diseases; cardiovascular health; cardiovascular risk factors; gender; health; health disparities; marital status; mortality.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Marital Status / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Support