Polygamy is a health risk


As the global population pushes past 7 billion, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) such as heart attacks, strokes, and other circulatory ailments have become the leading cause of premature death in the world.

Clinical researchers found that heart problems develop when cholesterol or inflammation blocks the supply of blood to the organ.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that 17.5 million people died from CVDs in 2012, representing 31 percent of all global deaths. Of these deaths, an estimated 7.4 million died due to coronary heart disease and 6.7 million were due to stroke.

The cause of heart attacks and strokes are usually the presence of a combination of risk factors, such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol, hypertension, diabetes and hyperlipidaemia, according to WHO.

And to add to this list is that polygamy also raises the risk of heart disease.  

A new observational study that was conducted by cardiologists across five hospitals in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates found that polygamous men have a significantly higher risk of heart disease than those with a single partner and this is mainly attributed to stress.

The study, which was presented at the Asian Pacific Society of Cardiology Congress, a gathering of leading cardiologists in Abu Dhabi recently, claimed 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.

The prospective multicentre observational study that examined the relationship between the presence and severity of coronary artery disease (CAD) and the number of wives or partners, indicated that there is indeed significant association between the number of wives and symptoms of CVD – disease of the left main artery and disease of multiple blood vessels.

According to the study report, of 687 married men with an average age of 59 that took part in the assessment – 56 percent had diabetes, 57 percent had hypertension and 45 percent had a prior history of coronary artery disease.

Overall, 68 percent of participants had one wife, 19 percent had two wives, 10 percent had three wives and three percent had four wives. If was found that that men with multiple wives were older, live in a rural area, well-off and also have a history of coronary artery bypass grafting.

The study author Dr Amin Daoulah, a cardiologist at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia was quoted saying there was a higher percentage of people residing in rural areas compared to urban areas.

“We found an association between an increasing number of wives and the severity and number of coronary blockages.

“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,” Daoulah was quoted as saying.

But due to the fact that the study only shows a correlation and not causation, and differences in physical activity, Daoulah recommended an investigation on genetic background and diet that could help explain the link between polygamy and heart disease.

Although in Southern Africa polygamy is not encouraged in some countries, in countries like South Africa and Swaziland it is culturally justifiable due to the fact that polygamy allows more women to have a husband, and not be left single.

In polygamy there are no mistresses, all the wives have the same rights, which prevent mistreatment and abandonment.

Depending on the relationship between the wives, one wife can babysit another’s child and if there are times when the husband is annoying you, you can always tell him to go away, and at least you will know where he’s gone and that he will come back.

On the downside, the traditional and cultural practice of polygamy has been identified as a major contributing factor to the spread of HIV.

May 2015
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