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Study: Divorce may increase heart attack risk

Heartbreak is often part of the end of a marriage. Now comes a study that postulates that divorce may actually put people, especially women, at greater risk for having a heart attack.

The study, conducted at Duke University, followed almost 16,000 people between 45 and 80 years old from 1992 through 2010. All of the subjects, who were interviewed every two years, were married or had been married.

During the study, about 8 percent of the subjects suffered a heart attack. Researchers say that after controlling for health conditions, ethnicity and other factors that could be linked to cardiovascular disease, they found the following:

-- Once-divorced women had a nearly 25 percent greater heart attack risk than those who had been married continuously.

-- Twice-divorced women had over 75 greater risk of a heart attack.

-- Among men, increased heart attack risk was seen only in subjects who had divorced more than once. They were at approximately a 30 percent higher risk.

The statistics for those who remarried may or may not be indicative of how good remarriage is for each gender:

-- Women who divorced and remarried still had a 35 percent greater heart attack risk.

-- Men who divorced and remarried had no increased risk.

The study's lead author noted that while divorce isn't a "classical risk factor" for a heart attack, he and his fellow researchers hope that their results will give people "a greater understanding of how the stress of divorce can affect their lives."

Of course, staying in an unhappy, unsatisfying and/or stressful marriage is likely not good for a person's health either. Sometimes, going your separate ways is best for both people. It may be possible to control just how contentious the divorce is, however.

Many Louisiana couples who are able to work together to determine the division of their assets and issues like child visitation and support payments may choose mediation or a collaborative divorce in which they work together, under professional guidance, to reach a settlement. Louisiana family law attorneys who are trained in mediation and collaborative law can help couples who want to minimize the stress of a divorce.

Source: New York Times, "Divorce May Be Bad for the Heart, Especially for Women," Nicholas Bakalar, April. 16, 2015

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