“The negative consequences of divorce have been known for some time,” said lead author Matthew Dupre, PhD, an associate professor of medicine at Duke. Previous studies have suggested a link between divorce, widowhood and heart disease, and people’s access to health care and their own lifestyle habits.
However, the Duke study, published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, reports that women’s increased risk of heart attack after divorce remains high even after taking into account the presence of known heart disease risk factors. These include behavioral and social factors, such as smoking and economic stress, and physical factors including obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.
“This is one of the first studies to look at the cumulative effect of divorce over a long period,” he explained. “We found it can have a lasting imprint on people’s health.”