Researchers who studied marital strain, depression and risk factors for heart
disease among 276 couples who had been married on average 20 years find the
combination of martial strain and depression ups the chances women will suffer
from metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is defined as high blood pressure,
waistline obesity, high blood sugar, high triglycerides, and low levels of HDL,
or “good” cholesterol. All five are considered risk factors for heart disease.
A similar association was not seen for men in the study. While men in strained
marriages were more likely to be depressed, they were not more likely to have
Why would women be affected and not men? “We know from previous research that
women are more sensitive and responsive to relationship problems than men,”
study author Nancy Henry, a doctoral student in psychology, was quoted as
saying. “The results of this study suggest those problems could harm their
She believes greater attention to marital health might help doctors better
understand the physical health of a husband and wife as well. “Improving aspects
of intimate relationships might help your emotional and physical well-being,"
SOURCE: Presented at the American Psychosomatic Society meeting, March 5, 2009,