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Marital Heartache

March 23, 2006

We all know that stress is bad for your heart, and stress in your marriage is one of the worst kinds. But recent research suggests that men and women react to marital stress differently–at least in their arteries.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
How your marriage can hurt your heart. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Stress in your marriage can be bad for your heart – but the worst kind of stress differs for men and women. This according to psychologist Tim Smith and his colleagues at the University of Utah. They analyzed older married couples discussing hot-button issues like money and chores. When conversations were hostile, the wives, but not the husbands, had increased hardening of the arteries. For the men, power struggles were the biggest risk factor.

TIM SMITH (University of Utah):
And this is consistent with a lot of other research that suggests that compared to men, women are more attuned to how well people are getting along, whereas men tend to be more sensitive to who’s in charge, and who’s controlling.

HIRSHON:
The findings may help couples pinpoint the health risks in their marriages.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.