Jul 17

Husbands beware: A new study offers more evidence to your wife that you are much better off because of her.

The study deals with how quickly people get to hospital after suffering a heart attack. And it seems that wives aren’t getting the same benefits that husbands are.

Published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the study shows married men, or those in common-law relationships, are more likely than unattached men to seek timely medical assistance after experiencing symptoms of a heart attack.

A similar effect was not seen among women who were married or in common-law relationships.

The study was led by Clare Atzema, a scientist with the Toronto-based Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. It looked at 4,403 people who were admitted to Ontario hospitals in 2004 and 2005 due to chest pains that were ultimately diagnosed as heart attacks.

It was found that married or attached men were 65 per cent less likely than others to take more than six hours getting to hospital after the onset of chest pains. There was no significant difference in the rate at which married women, or those in common-law relationships, got to hospital compared to other women.

The paper said this might be indicative of how women readily assume the role of a caregiver for their spouses in times of crisis, while the same cannot be said for men.

“I think women are just used to taking the caregiver role, whereas men are not,” Atzema said.

She added that even when married men are not with their wives at the time of heart attack symptoms, they’re probably more inclined to seek treatment rather than face their wives who will “tear a strip off them” for procrastinating.

Past research has shown that married men are less likely to die of cardiovascular-related problems than unmarried men, and Atzema said the tendency to seek treatment quicker is probably a reason.

The study also found that divorced women were more likely to delay getting treatment.

Atzema speculated they might be less inclined to go to a hospital while experiencing chest pains because they are often pressed for time as a result of being sole guardians of children, plus working.

Atzema questioned how much of this one-way caregiver relationship between husbands and wives was a generational issue. She noted that 67 was the average age of people in this study.

“It would be very interesting to repeat this study in 30 years time,” she said. “Gender roles are much more fluid now in the younger generations, and this is a study of patients of heart-attack age. . . . These are older people, a different generation, where the gender roles are probably a little more defined.”

Some of the other findings of the study were that South Asian men were quicker in getting treatment for a chest pains,

Atzema said South Asian men are known to be more prone to heart attacks and they perhaps have a heightened awareness of the symptoms and seriousness of heart attacks.

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