Married men, as well as men who are in long-term relationships with a live-in partner are faster at seeking medical help for a heart attack compared to widowed, single or divorced males, researchers from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences reported in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Several studies have already demonstrated the health benefits for a man who lives with his long-term partner, the authors explained. Over the last twenty years emergency department delays in Canada have been reduced significantly. There are fast and effective treatment for heart attacks today.

Nevertheless, delays in seeking out treatment for chest pains have not got any better.

Dr. Clare Atzema and team set out to determine whether a man’s marital status had any impact on the time it takes to get to an emergency department after symptoms of chest pain begin.

The researchers gathered data on 4,403 acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) patients in Ontario. 33.7% of them were female, and their mean age was 67.3 years.

The authors reported that:

  • 46.3% of them were in hospital within two hours
  • 73.6% were in hospital within 6 hours
  • Among married individuals of either sex 75.3% were in hospital within 6 hours.
  • 67.9% of single people were in hospital within six hours
  • 68.5% of divorced people were in hospital within six hours
  • 70.8% of widowed people were in hospital within six hours

Dr. Clare Atzema and team wrote:

“At the patient level, among patients with an exact time of onset of chest pain, the adjusted time saved was a remarkable half-hour. Among all the factors that had an effect in the primary outcome model, only calling an ambulance had a greater influence on the time to presentation. Because cardiovascular disease is the most frequent cause of death in Canada and the Western world, the benefit at the population level is substantial.

Earlier attainment of medical care may be one reason why married men have a lower risk of cardiovascular mortality than their single counterparts,” conclude the authors. “Awareness of the differences in reasons for delay by sex could facilitate the development of targeted public health campaigns as a way to reduce patient-caused delay among those at risk.” “

Heart failure – this is a serious condition. The patient’s heart does not pump blood around the body efficiently.

Heart attack – heart muscle dies because of blockage (occlusion) of the coronary artery. Heart muscle dies because it is not betting enough oxygen.

Cardiac arrest – the heart stops, blood circulation stops, there is no heartbeat (pulse).

“Effect of marriage on duration of chest pain associated with acute myocardial infarction before seeking care”
Clare L. Atzema, Peter C. Austin, Thao Huynh, Ansar Hassan, Maria Chiu, Julie T. Wang, Jack V. Tu
CMAJ July 18, 2011 First published July 18, 2011, doi: 10.1503/cmaj.110170

Written by Christian Nordqvist