Marriage is (literally) good for the heart: study

The study examined ethnically varied populations in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia, adding weight to the results. (Shutterstock)
Updated 19 June 2018
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Marriage is (literally) good for the heart: study

  • The risk of dying was likewise elevated for the non-married, by 42 percent from coronary heart disease and by 55 percent from stroke
  • The study examined ethnically varied populations in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia, adding weight to the results

PARIS: Even if marriage is sometimes more a bed of nails than roses, living into old age with a partner may help ward off heart disease and stroke, researchers said Tuesday.
A sweeping survey of research conducted over the last two decades covering more than two million people aged 42 to 77 found that being hitched significantly reduced the risk of both maladies, they reported in the medical journal Heart.
The study examined ethnically varied populations in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia, adding weight to the results.
Compared to people living in spousal union, the divorced, widowed or never married were 42 percent more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and 16 percent more likely to have coronary heart disease, the study found.
The risk of dying was likewise elevated for the non-married, by 42 percent from coronary heart disease and by 55 percent from stroke.
The results were nearly the same for men and women, except for stroke, to which men were more susceptible.
“These findings may suggest that marital status should be considered in the risk assessment for cardiovascular disease,” concluded a team led by Chun Wai Wong, a researcher at Royal Stoke Hospital’s department of cardiology, in Stoke-on-Trent in Britain.
Four-fifths of all cardiovascular disease can be attributed to a proven set of “risk factors“: advanced age, being a man, high-blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and diabetes.
Marriage, in other words, could be an important share of the missing 20 percent.
More precisely, living together — with or without a wedding band — is probably the operative factor, if indeed conjugal status has any impact at all.
But most of the 34 studies reviewed by Wong and colleagues did not identify couples out of wedlock or same-sex unions, so it was not possible to know whether, statistically, such arrangements were the equivalent of being wed.
Because the study was observational rather than based on a controlled experiment — something scientists can do with mice but not humans — no clear conclusions could be drawn as to cause-and-effect.
That leaves open the question of why marriages may be “protective.”
“There are various theories,” the researchers said in a statement.
Having someone around to take care of one’s health problems and keep track of one’s meds is probably a plus, as are two incomes or pensions instead of one.
More intangibly, not living alone is thought to be good for morale, and for neural stimulation. People living in couples, earlier research has shown, also have lower rates of dementia.


Tunnel through an Australian mountain? No problem, says Elon Musk

Updated 17 January 2019
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Tunnel through an Australian mountain? No problem, says Elon Musk

  • The entrepreneur behind electric carmaker Tesla has most recently turned his sights on tackling city traffic via low-cost tunnels
  • Musk in 2017 made a Twitter pitch to build what was the world’s biggest battery in an Australian state to solve its severe energy crisis

SYDNEY: Australia could become a test ground for another of Elon Musk’s massive infrastructure projects after the maverick billionaire tweeted a “bargain” price to build a tunnel through a mountain to solve Sydney’s traffic woes.
Musk in 2017 made a Twitter pitch — and followed through with the offer — to build what was the world’s biggest battery in an Australian state to solve its severe energy crisis.
The entrepreneur behind electric carmaker Tesla has most recently turned his sights on tackling city traffic via low-cost tunnels created by his Boring Company, and in December unveiled a sample project near Los Angeles.
So when an Australian politician tweeted at Musk on Wednesday about the costs of drilling through a mountain range north of Sydney, he responded quickly.
“I’m a lawmaker in Sydney, which is choking with traffic. How much to build a 50km tunnel through the Blue Mountains and open up the west of our State?,” asked New South Wales state MP Jeremy Buckingham.
“About $15M/km for a two way high speed transit, so probably around $750M plus maybe $50M/station,” Musk replied late Wednesday, with his response liked more than 22,000 times on Twitter.
He has more than 24 million followers on the social media platform.
Another billionaire, Mike Cannon-Brookes, who founded Australian software startup Atlassian, weighed in on the exchange, saying the estimated price tag “sounds like a bargain for Sydney.”
The population of the Sydney region has grown by around 25 percent since 2011 to reach 5.4 million, out of a national population of 25 million, and road congestion is a major concern.
There was no indication the exchange of tunnel tweets would lead to any quick action, but it could bring some needed positive publicity for Musk.
Musk has risen to prominence with a series of ambitious ventures, particularly Tesla, but has also drawn plenty of criticism for some volatile behavior.
He waged a public battle with a rescuer who helped save a group of boys trapped in a cave in Thailand last year, calling him a “pedo guy” after the Brit slammed his idea of building a mini-submarine to save the children as a public relations stunt.
Meanwhile, riders who have tested out Boring’s prototype tunnel — where cars are lowered by lifts then slotted into tracks and propelled along at high speeds — have complained of a bumpy journey.