Stress in the couple can prevent a good recovery after a heart attack

Stress in the couple can prevent a good recovery after a heart attack


  • Cardio-neurovascular diseases and their complications are the first cause of death in the world according to the Ministry of Health and Prevention.
  • In France, every year, 40 to 50,000 people die prematurely from cardiac arrest, or about one death every 10 to 15 minutes, according to the French Federation of Cardiology.

The quality of the emotional and sexual relationship with the spouse contributes to being in good health… and the opposite can have serious repercussions. Indeed, according to a study, significant marital stress is linked to poorer recovery after a heart attack.

Determine the level of stress in the couple

To measure the link between marital stress and recovery after a heart attack, the researchers asked 1,593 adults to complete a questionnaire one month after their heart attack.

This one was called “Stockholm Marital Stress Scale”, was composed of 17 points, and had already been tested in elderly women with heart problems in Stockholm, Sweden.

In this questionnaire, it was asked, for example, if the spouses had activities in common, if the relationship was considered to be loving or friendly, etc. Cenjing Zhu’s team, the study’s lead author, categorized participants into three marital stress groups based on their responses: low/none, moderate, or severe. Participants were then followed for up to a year.

In parallel, the scientists used a point scale to assess the extent to which the participants’ physical health may have limited their activities of daily living, their body pain and their perception of health. Mental health was also measured by taking into account mental well-being and the level of social interaction.

Stress in the couple is harmful for patients who have had a heart attack

According to the results, stress in the couple is harmful for patients who have had a heart attack. Indeed, participants with significant marital stress were 67% more likely to report chest pain than those with mild or no marital stress.

In addition, the probability of being readmitted to the hospital, whatever the cause, increased by almost 50% in the event of high stress in the couple.

Additionally, participants who reported severe stress levels had an 8-point lower quality of life. And it is women who suffer the most: they were more likely than men to report high marital stress in their responses to the survey. Nearly 4 in 10 women reported severe marital stress, compared to 3 in 10 men.

A situation that presents an additional risk for women because cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks are the leading cause of death among women in France.


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