A recent study found that marriage may affect survival after coronary artery bypass surgery.

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Marriage may be good for your health. Mostly.

Many studies have looked at the correlation between marriage and health, and a recent study found that marriage may affect survival after coronary artery bypass surgery.

The study was published in the Journal of Health Psychology in August, and found that people who were married when they had heart surgery were 2.5 times more likely to be alive 15 years later than unmarried people.

Surprisingly, it appeared that marital status was a better predictor of long-term survival after bypass surgery than other well-known risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and prior heart attacks.

While only 36 percent of unmarried men still were alive 15 years after surgery, 83 percent of the men who said they were highly satisfied with their marriage survived.

Other findings from the study showed that happier marriages tended to have more health benefits than unhappier ones. Of note, however, women appeared to have less of a survival benefit with marriage than men in the study — although the decreased sample size for women vs. men in the study may have made that hard to analyze.

Marriage also appears to have an impact on other health conditions, and some other studies have shown:

— Decreased alcohol and drug use among married people.

— Reduced depression and increased socialization among married people.

— Reduced risk of nursing home admission, reduced nursing home costs and overall reduced health care costs in married persons.

— No change in tobacco smoking with marriage, and interestingly enough, less marijuana use in married men but no such difference in women.

— An increase of weight in both men and women with marriage, and a decrease in physical activity for married men.

Studies on marriage are difficult to conduct, and they do not take into account the health status prior to marriage. There also appears to be a difference in health effects based on gender, and the nature of the marriage — happy vs. unhappy.

It appears that the positive benefits of marriage on health represent a combination of the selection of healthier people into marriage and true health benefits from marriage. The studies on marriage should be applicable to any long-term relationship.

So, marriage appears to be mostly good for your health, especially if it is a happy marriage. But you may need to get out and exercise to prevent the extra marital pounds from accumulating.

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Drs. Kay Judge and Maxine Barish-Wreden are medical directors of Sutter Downtown Integrative Medicine program in Sacramento, Calif. Have a question related to alternative medicine? Email adrenaline@sacbee.com.