Having multiple wives may break your heart.
New research shows that polygamous men have a significantly higher risk of heart disease than those with a single partner.
The study, which was presented Wednesday at the Asian Pacific Society of Cardiology Congress, a meeting of cardiologists in Abu Dhabi, shows that men with more than one significant other had more than a four-fold higher risk of developing coronary artery disease, compared with their monogamous counterparts. This heart problem develops when cholesterol and/or inflammation blocks the supply of blood to the organ.
"We found an association between an increasing number of wives and the severity and number of coronary blockages,” said Dr. Amin Daoulah, with the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in a statement. “This could be because the need to provide and maintain separate households multiplies the financial burden and emotional expense. Each household must be treated fairly and equally, and it seems likely that the stress of doing that for several spouses and possibly several families of children is considerable."
Previous research has shown that long-term stress increases the risk of heart problems.
The study examined the medical histories of 687 men from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, one-third of which had more than one wife. Two of the men had four wives, the maximum seen in the sample, while most of these polygamists only had two.
“Men with multiple wives have to be well supported financially, and although Saudis and Emirati people are supported by their governments, polygamists may need more than one income,” Daoulah adds. “They may therefore take on extra employment or have the added pressure of traveling daily to urban areas for higher paid work," as polygamy is more common in rural areas, he said.
The study only shows a correlation and not causation, and differences in physical activity, genetic background and diet could help explain the link between polygamy and heart disease, he says.