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Originally published August 3 2008

A Happy Marriage Boosts Heart Health, Researchers Discover

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) People who are happily married have lower blood pressure than those who are single or in an unhappy marriage, according to a study conducted by researchers from Brigham Young University and published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

The researchers had 204 married adults and 99 single ones wear portable blood-pressure monitors for a complete 24-hour period. These monitors allowed researchers to take random blood pressure readings 72 different times during the day.

"We wanted to capture participants' blood pressure doing whatever they normally do in everyday life," said researcher Julianne Holt-Lunstad. "Getting one or two readings in a clinic is not really representative of the fluctuations that occur throughout the day."

Participants also answered questions about the number and quality of the friends in their social network. In addition, married participants answered a questionnaire about the quality of their marriages.

The blood pressure scores of happily married people were an average of four points lower than those of single people. People in happier marriages also experienced a larger drop in blood pressure while they slept.

"Research has shown that people whose blood pressure remains high throughout the night are at much greater risk of cardiovascular problems than people whose blood pressure dips," Holt-Lunstad said.

Unhappily married people, however, had worse blood pressure than those who were single.

Having many supportive friends did not appear to have any impact on the blood pressure of either single or married people.

"There seem to be some unique health benefits from marriage. It's not just being married that benefits health. What's really the most protective of health is having a happy marriage," Holt-Lunstad said.

In addition to providing emotional support for each other, Holt-Lunstad said that spouses can encourage healthy habits, such as a better diet and regular visits to the doctor.

Next, the researchers plan to study whether marriage counseling improves the health of participants overtime.

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