Marriage, however, does not make a difference in preventing heart disease in women.
Researchers believe the mortality difference may be because marriage motivates women to seek early medical treatment or improve overall health.
Sarah Floud, Ph.D., and colleagues at Oxford University say there may be other possible explanations too.
For example, other studies have shown that partners tend to encourage their spouses to take medication and make changes in unhealthy lifestyles.
The findings come from the latest analysis of data from a large UK study of women’s health run by Oxford University researchers, the Million Women Study.
This new study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, included 730,000 women who were on average 60 years old. Over a nine-year period, 30,000 of these women developed heart disease and 2,000 died from the condition.
Investigators found that married women, or those living with a partner, had the same risk of developing heart disease as unmarried women (this included single, widowed, and divorced women). But the chance of dying from heart disease was 28 percent lower.
The study took many factors into account that could have influenced the results, such as age, socioeconomic status and lifestyle, but the lower risk of death from heart disease remained.
“Married women were no less likely to develop heart disease than women who were not married, but they were less likely to die from it,” Floud said.
“This means that, over 30 years, about three in 100 married women would die from heart disease compared with about four in 100 women who are not married or living with a partner.”
Source: Oxford University