Skip to content

    Health & Balance

    Font Size

    Divorce Has Lasting Toll on Health

    Even With Remarriage, Disease Risk Elevated

    Remarriage Helps

    “People who did not remarry had significantly worse health than people who did, so remarriage helps,” Waite says. “But it does not erase the effects of being widowed or divorced.”

    Waite conducted the study along with co-author Mary Elizabeth Hughes, PhD, of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

    Waite says the findings have implications for physicians, as well as family and friends of people experiencing divorce or the death of a spouse.

    She says doctors should be especially vigilant about treating risk factors for chronic diseases like high blood pressure and high cholesterol following a divorce or spouse’s death. And having a strong social support network can also impact risk.

    “This is a time when support is extremely important,” she says. “Anything that helps people deal with stress can help.”

    Stress From Divorce

    University of Texas at Austin researcher Mark Hayward, PhD, has studied the impact of divorce on heart disease.

    In one study, he showed that divorced, middle-aged women -- even when they remarried -- were more likely to develop heart disease than non-divorced, married women.

    Hayward tells WebMD that long-term stress before, during, and after a divorce may accelerate the biologic processes that lead to cardiovascular disease and possibly other chronic diseases.

    “Even when the stress goes away, this acceleration may continue as if the body has been reprogrammed,” he says.

    But this doesn’t mean that divorce is always worse for your health than staying married, he says.

    Hayward directs the university’s Population Research Center.

    “This study suggests that, on average, that is the case, but clearly it is not true for everyone,” he says. “For people in highly stressful marriages, divorce may be beneficial for their health.”

    1 | 2

    Today on WebMD

    woman in yoga class
    6 health benefits of yoga.
    beautiful girl lying down of grass
    10 relaxation techniques to try.
    mature woman with glass of water
    Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
    coffee beans in shape of mug
    Get the facts.
    Take your medication
    Hand appearing to hold the sun
    Hungover man
    Welcome mat and wellington boots
    Woman worn out on couch
    Happy and sad faces
    Fingertip with string tied in a bow
    laughing family