That's what a new Canadian study has found. Among 4,403 heart attack victims, average age 67, married men sought treatment for chest pain faster than single, divorced or widowed men.
However, marriage did not have the same benefit for women: Married women having chest pain did not get to the hospital sooner than single women.
The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, looked at how long it took for the subjects, 1,486 of them women, to arrive at a hospital for treatment after the onset of chest pain. A delayed arrival was defined as six hours or longer from when the pain began to when treatment was started.
On average, researchers found that married heart attack victims arrived at the hospital about a half-hour sooner than unmarried ones.
Among men only, those who were married were 75 percent were likely to get to a hospital within six hours after experiencing chest pain, compared to 68 percent of single men, 69 percent of divorced men and 71 percent of widowers. For women, there was no significant difference between married and unmarried.
Lead author Clare Atzema, an emergency physician and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, told the New York Times that it's because "wives are more likely to take the caregiver role and advise their husbands to go to the E.R."
Plus, there's that hidden health benefit of spousal nagging.
"(As) my husband put it," said Dr. Atzema, "even if I wasn't there telling him to go to the hospital, he'd hear my voice telling him to do so. Even when they're not there, women have a pronounced effect."
Photo credit: Mykl Roventine via flickr.com