Marriage may be good for the heart, in more ways than one, claims a new study from the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.  The study, which was covered by USA Today, found that married adults who underwent heart surgery were over three times more likely to survive the first three months after the operation.  And, the likelihood of dying within the first five years was nearly double for single individuals.

The lead author of the study is Ellen Idler, a sociologist at Emory University.  Idler and her colleagues interviewed  over 500 patients who underwent emergency or elective coronary bypass surgery prior to their surgeries.  Then, they analyzed the patients’ responses with survival data from the National Death Index.  Overall, marriage boosted survival for both men and women.

“The findings underscore the important role of spouses as caregivers during health crises,” Idler says. The higher long-term death rate for singles was linked to higher smoking rates — but spouses may also play a role in discouraging smoking, the researchers say.