Marital stress – especially if it’s severe – may make it harder for younger adults to regain good physical and mental health following a heart attack, increasing the likelihood for chest pain and hospital readmission, a new study suggests.
“Health care professionals need to be aware of personal factors that may contribute to cardiac recovery and focus on guiding patients to resources that help manage and reduce their stress levels,” Cenjing Zhu, the study’s lead author, said in a news release. Zhu is a doctoral candidate in chronic disease epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Connecticut.
“Our findings support that stress experienced in one’s everyday life, such as marital stress, may impact young adults’ recovery after a heart attack,” Zhu said. “However, additional stressors beyond marital stress, such as financial strain or work stress, may also play a role in young adults’ recovery, and the interaction between these factors requires further research.”
The research will be presented Sunday at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions, being held virtually and in person in Chicago. The findings are considered preliminary until the full study results are published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, where an estimated 605,000 first-time heart attacks and 200,000 recurrent attacks occur each year.

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