Married people are more likely to survive a heart attack and leave the hospital sooner than single people, a new British study finds.
"Our results should not be a cause for concern for single people who have had a heart attack," said study co-author Dr. Nicholas Gollop, a clinical research fellow in cardiology at the University of East Anglia.
"But they should certainly be a reminder to the medical community of the importance of considering the support a heart attack survivor will get once they're discharged," Gollop added in a British Heart Foundation news release.
Researchers examined data from more than 25,000 heart attack patients in England. They found that married people were 14 percent less likely to die than single people.
The analysis also showed that married heart attack survivors spent an average of two fewer days in the hospital than single survivors. Shorter hospital stays reduce health care costs and reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections, the researchers noted.
The researchers said their findings highlight the importance of physical and emotional support after a heart attack.
"A heart attack can have both devastating physical and psychological effects -- most of which are hidden from the outside world. These findings suggest the support offered by a spouse can have a beneficial effect on heart attack survivors, perhaps helping to minimize the impact of a heart attack," said Dr. Mike Knapton, associate medical director of the British Heart Foundation.
If you have a heart attack, whether you're married or not, it's important to remember that you're not alone, Knapton said. "Enrolling in a cardiac rehabilitation course, for example, will help you to recover physically, psychologically, and also help you to meet people with similar experiences, who know what you've been through," he said.
The study was presented Tuesday at a British Cardiovascular Society meeting in Manchester, England. The results should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.