Polygamous Marriage Is Linked To Higher Rates Of Literal Heartache For Husbands

By: Tia Ghose
Published: April 28, 2015 06:39pm ET on LiveScience.

Having more than one wife may cause some serious heartache.

Men who are polygamous face more than quadruple the risk of having blocked heart vessels, compared with men married to one woman, new research suggests.

“We found an association between an increasing number of wives and the severity and number of coronary blockages,” study co-author Dr. Amin Daoulah, a cardiologist at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, said in a statement. This link could be due to the burden of maintaining several households, which can be costly both financially and emotionally, Daoulah said.

According to the Koran, men in polygamous marriages must treat each household fairly and equally. “It seems likely that the stress of doing that for several spouses and possibly several families of children is considerable,” Daoulah said.

In the study, the more wives a man had, the greater his risk of heart disease, according to the findings presented today (April 29) at the Asian Pacific Society of Cardiology Congress 2015. [Life's Extremes: Monogamy vs. Polygamy]

However, the study does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between polygamy and heart woes. It’s possible that other, hidden factors, such as the level of intimacy in a marriage, eating habits or genetic factors, could play a role in polygamy and heart disease risk, Daoulah said.

Monogamy versus polygamy

A study published earlier this year in the journal Biology Letters suggests that men and women both fall on a continuum from monogamous to promiscuous, with slightly less than half of men, and slightly more than half of women, preferring to have only one serious partner at a time.

However, some scientists have argued that polygamy makes evolutionary sense for men, but not women. That’s because polygamous men can have —> Read More