Why men are more likely to die of a broken heart

In contrast, women's longevity wasn't affected by the loss of their spouses - and some lived for longer. Photo / Getty
In contrast, women's longevity wasn't affected by the loss of their spouses - and some lived for longer. Photo / Getty

Many men are criticised for not showing their emotions in a relationship.

But it seems this may be an unfair accusation - as it is men, rather than women, who are more likely to die from a broken heart when they were bereaved.

A study found that males who were widowed died younger than their still-married counterparts.

In contrast, women's longevity wasn't affected by the loss of their spouses - and some lived for longer.

It is thought one of the reasons men are affected more deeply is that they tend to rely on their wives to look after their health and social lives.

As a result, the loss of their other half can leave them struggling with everything from
loneliness, to cooking healthy meals and remembering to take their medicines.

Women, in contrast, are more self-sufficient, plus they tend to have a bigger network of friends who will provide support in times of need.

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The US researchers analysed data on almost 7,500 married men and women aged 50-plus whose lives and health were tracked for up to 16 years.

Men were twice as likely to die during the course of the study than women.

And males who had been widowed for at least two years were 35 per cent more likely to die than those whose wives were still alive.

A divorce raised a man's odds of death by 59 per cent. The death or divorce of a husband did not affect women's longevity overall.

However, if a woman was in an unhappy marriage, being widowed was linked with a longer than normal life, the journal Social Science & Medicine reports.

The scientists, from Miami University, wrote: "One's spouse may encourage positive health behaviours and discourage risky behaviours, a marital benefit stronger for men, which may be lost. Indeed, divorce is associated with weight loss, smoking and, particularly for men, alcohol consumption, and widowhood is related to reductions in weight and exercise."

The power of friends

Being unpopular could be as bad for your heart as smoking, a study has found.

Levels of fibrinogen, a protein instrumental in heart attacks and strokes, were shown to be higher in socially isolated people.

The Harvard University researchers compared fibrinogen measurements from more than 3,500 men and women with information on their social networks.

Interestingly, their analysis showed there to be little link between the number of friends a person said they had and their fibrinogen levels.

However, those who were named by lots of people as being a friend had lower levels of the clotting protein, the Harvard University researchers found.

On the flip side, those who were rarely described as a friend had more of the compound in their blood.

In those who were least popular, fibrinogen levels were as high as in smokers, the Royal Society journal Proceedings B reports.

- Daily Mail

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