Heart bypass surgery is fairly common these days. Now new research shows being married might help your long term survival. Being happily married helps even more. (Full study results below)
One local couple is living proof that a happy marriage really can help mend a heart.
ONE LOCAL COUPLE
Inside the Highland Pet Center, along with the fish, and the parakeets, you'll also find two birds of a feather: the Cartwrights. "We're just sort of a matched pair," said Philip Cartwright.
Debbie Cartwright grooms dogs. As for Philip. "Well I just hang out!" Cartwright laughed.
For these two it wasn't love at first sight. "Actually the first time I met him I didn't like him very much," said Debbie Cartwright. But you'd never know that now. "We're together all the time. We're like Forest Gump, two peas in a pod. That's us," said Philip.
These two like taking walks, watching the Washington Redskins, and did we mention their pets?
"Oh yea, pets pets we have pets everywhere," said Philip Cartwright as he held a pet rat on his shoulder. "This is my rat. His name is Remy."
"We have three rabbits, two cats, a cockatoo, two sugar gliders, and two dogs," said Debbie.
They also have each other. They've been married now for nine years.
It wasn't long after these two got married that Philip began having heart problems and in 2007 the doctor told him he needed heart surgery. "He said what I actually think you need now is a bypass," Philip said.
In the weeks and months after that surgery, his wife Debbie was always there. "How helpful was my wife? If it weren't for my wife, I'd probably still be at home nursing myself back," said Philip. "Just her being there made a world of difference."
It not just the help in the first few weeks, but supporting each other with healthier lifestyles. "We share fixing meals and stuff just like happy couples should," said Philip.
But perhaps the key, research shows, is that happy marriages give patients that will to survive for the long term, because they're part of a team.
"Yes we are a team at everything. If something comes up we hit it head on together," said Debbie.
"You've got somebody you can depend on. You have somebody there to help you that takes the stress off of you," said Philip.
The Cartwrights are proving that when it comes to health, man's best friend may actually be his spouse.
The results show 83 percent of happily married husbands were alive 15 years after bypass surgery, compared with 60 percent of men in "less-than satisfying" marriages. For unmarried men, just 36 percent were alive 15 years after surgery, according to the study.
The numbers for women look like this: 83 percent of happily married wives were alive 15 years post surgery, but only 28 percent who were in unhappy marriages survived 15 years, and 27 percent of unmarried women survived 15 years post surgery
The bottom line, according to University of Rochester researchers is that marital satisfaction is every bit as important to survival after bypass surgery as more traditional risk factors like tobacco use, obesity and high blood pressure.University of Rochester researchers tracked 225 people who had undergone bypass surgery between 1987 and 1990, asking them about their marital status at the time of surgery and to rate their marital satisfaction a year after their operations, according to website WebMD. They found that marital satisfaction plays an important role in long-term survival after heart bypass surgery.