Bad marriages can lead to broken hearts in more ways than one. Besides the emotional loss, women in bad marriages also increase their risks for heart disease, according to psychologists at the University of Utah.
Stress from failing marriages led to depression and to a higher risk of hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and worsening cholesterol levels. But the effects only show up in women, not in men.
"The gender difference is important because heart disease is the number one killer of women as well as men," said study author Nancy Henry.
The difference between the sexes could be due to different hormonal levels in women.
And while marital stress may worsen heart risks, scientests don't yet know if the reverse is true. "It's a little premature to say they would lower their risk of heart disease if they improved the tone and quality of their marriages, or if they dumped their husbands," said researcher Tim Smith.