old couple, romance
Results showed that quality of marriage had a huge role in heart health.Paul L Dineen/Flickr

An unhappy married life can harm your heart, latest evidence shows. Researchers from the Michigan State University based their findings on 1,200 old and married people, aged between 57 and 85, in US. The participants were part of the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project in the country.

During the study, the participants provided information about their married life and underwent lab tests to check heart heath that mainly concentrated on prevalence of heart attack, strokes, hypertension and high levels of c-reactive protein in blood.

Results showed that the quality of marriage had a huge role in heart health.

Hui Liu and colleagues found that negative marital quality like regular criticism from the spouse or demanding nature of the spouse left a damaging effect on heart health. The heart risk was more visible in older people, mainly in women.

"Marriage counselling is focused largely on younger couples," Liu, associate professor of sociology, said in a news release. "But these results show that marital quality is just as important at older ages, even when the couple has been married 40 or 50 years."

This may be because women have the tendency to keep negative feelings to themselves and feel depressed, which further increases their risk of cardiovascular diseases, the authors explained.

The study also found that heart disease left a negative impact on the marital quality of women as husbands, in most of the cases, failed to give proper support and care to their sick wives.

"In this way, a wife's poor health may affect how she assesses her marital quality, but a husband's poor health doesn't hurt his view of marriage," Liu said.

The study has been reported in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour.

Research from different parts of the world has linked unhappy marriage and parental conflict to several health problems in both partners and children.

Studies have linked unhappy marriages to decreased release of pro-inflammatory proteins in the physical and mental wounds caused by arguments or conflicts. When continued for a long time, these changes can lead to heart disease, cancer, arthritis, type 2 diabetes and depression, WebMD reported.

Similarly, evidence shows that children exposed to an unhealthy family environment are more likely to suffer stroke, diabetes and heart disease; put on unhealthy weight and try their hands at smoking.