A leading cause of death and disability in the US, strokes affect nearly 800,000 adults every year. Now researchers are showing for the first time that current and past marital status can play a big role in survival rates following a stroke, reports MedicalXpress. After tracking the outcomes of more than 2,300 stroke survivors for five years, researchers report in the Journal of the American Heart Association that 1,362 people died in that period, and that people who'd never married were 71% more likely to have died than stroke patients in lengthy, "continuous" marriages. People who had divorced or been widowed were also at a higher risk of dying after stroke.
While the study doesn't explain exactly why, reports the American Heart Association, the researchers hypothesize that married couples have better social support, not to mention someone helping the survivor follow medication regimens and practice healthier habits. "What we don't know is whether other forms of social support might have similar benefits," one expert tells US News & World Report. He adds that, because depression is common following stroke, it "needs to be recognized and treated," which may be less likely in unmarried stroke survivors. Another expert says that while unmarried stroke survivors should seek help, many don't, so "be the 'nudge' who makes sure they're taking care of themselves." (A Playboy model died of a stroke at age 34.)