Healthy Heart

Men Who Do Not Have Children Are at Risk for Heart Disease

Men Who Do Not Have Children Are at Risk for Heart Disease

A new study has show that men who do not have children are more likely to die from a heart complication or condition, when compared to men who did have children. In this study, the researchers followed more than 135,000 older men for a decade to observe the impact of fatherhood on health. Study researcher Michael L. Eisenberg, MD, reports that childless men were more likely to die due to cardiovascular disease and stroke when compared to others. But the study does not clearly show whether fatherhood has a direct impact on the risk of heart disease and stroke, or whether the impact is related to the differences in biology and lifestyle.

Analysis shows that about 75% of the participants in the study who did not have children wanted to have a child, and so it is possible that many were infertile, says Eisenberg. He adds that hormonal imbalances that led to infertility might have increased the risk of heart disease. In this study the researchers analyzed the data from a questionnaire filled by the member of AARP. A total of 138,000 married or previously married men between the ages of 50-years-old and 71-years-old were included in the study. Out of the total, 11,000 participants were childless, but there was no information regarding why they were childless. Information was lacking on the marital status and how long children lived with fathers.

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Studies conducted earlier with the objective of finding the impact of fatherhood on the risk of disease have shown mixed results. Some of the studies report that men who could enter fatherhood have a higher risk of death, while other studies could not find any association between risk of disease and fatherhood. One of the studies reported that having a higher number of children is associated with a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. A recent study had shown an association between low testosterone levels and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Eisenberg remarks that if the participants in the study were childless or had just one child because of low levels of testosterone, they might be having higher chances of developing cardiovascular diseases.

In this study, during the 10-year follow-up, 3,000 men died of heart disease or stroke. After considering other risks of heart disease and stroke, the study showed that childless men had a 17% increased risk of death from these causes when compared to men who had children. Participants who had one child had 13% increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, when compared to others who had more than one child.