Being In Love Has An Unexpected Effect On Your Heart Health

They say that love is what makes the world go 'round. Love is omnipresent — we see it around us, we read about it in books, and come on, who doesn't love watching a sappy romance film every now and then? We have a hyper-fixation on love, and for good reason. 

Humans strive and yearn for love because the experience of genuine, true love is virtually unmatched, and anyone who has been lucky enough to find it would agree. The benefits of love are innumerable — companionship and camaraderie, physical affection, a sense of family — the list goes on and on. But, what if we told you that there's another benefit to a healthy, loving relationship, and it has to do with your heart health? Modern research suggests that being in love can prove impactful and ultimately beneficial to one's heart health in a variety of different ways, such as reducing blood pressure, increasing your blood supply, and lowering the risk of heart disease (via Now Patient). 

Love and heart health

In 2017, the American Heart Association ran a study tracking the progression of heart disease amongst married and unmarried individuals. The study found that single, unmarried individuals were significantly more likely to suffer heart attacks or death from cardiovascular illnesses. A purported theory for this phenomenon lies in the connection between heart disease and stress. Heart diseases are exacerbated by stress, and individuals in happy, healthy relationships are often less stressed than their single counterparts. This is because having a reliable, understanding, and trustworthy confidante can work wonders at reducing and mitigating stress or stress-related symptoms. 

Physical intimacy has also been found to aid in heart health. As Penn Medicine reported, acts of physical intimacy such as hand-holding, kissing, and sex can trigger the release of various endorphins in the body, which can ultimately help counter heart disease and even depression. Similarly, a 2010 study conducted by PLOS Medicine found that individuals with stronger, closer social relationships, such as marriage and intimate relationships, typically live 50% longer than those with more sparse social relationships.

Other health benefits of love

According to Harvard Medical School, being in love, or "love-struck", as many call it, increases dopamine release in the brain. Dopamine is known as the body's happy hormone, which fosters feelings of joy, optimism, and excitement within the body. Regular dopamine releases are pivotal for one's mental health, known to combat mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideations. 

UT Health Austin has also found that being in love can help reduce one's blood pressure. Researchers report that amongst happy, married couples, both partners tend to sustain lower, healthier blood pressure levels than individuals who are single. The aforementioned study also suggests that love can help regulate and improve gut health as well. 80% of the human body's immune system resides in the gut. The emotional sensation of love has been shown to nurture life-enhancing, healthy bacteria within the gut, ultimately contributing to a healthier gut microbiome. A healthier gut microbiome can also help prevent the onset of infectious diseases.