Marriage is literally good for the heart, as a new study has found that married people are more likely to recover well from heart surgery compared to those who are separated, divorced or widowed, HealthDay reported.

The researchers took data from the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study, a bigger study that started in 1998 and involved 29,053 adults. When the study began, all the participants were aged 50 years old or more. They were interviewed about their health, family structure and medical care every two years.

The research team studied information from 1,576 participants, 65 percent of whom were married, 21 percent were widowed and 12 percent were separated or divorced. Two percent of the study participants were never married. Most of the married individuals were male.

The team found out that two years after heart surgery, 29 percent of those who were separated or divorced, 34 percent of those who were widowed and 20 percent of those who were never married either died or developed a difficulty to perform common activities like eating, dressing and walking. On the other hand, only 19 percent of those who were married suffered the same fate, according to a press release.

"People who were married had fewer decreases in functional status compared to people who were widowed, divorced or separated," lead study author Dr. Mark Neuman from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania told HealthDay.

The researchers concluded that "marital status is a predictor of survival and functional recovery after cardiac surgery." However, they emphasized that more studies are needed to establish specific associations between marital status and postoperative health.

"These findings extend prior work suggesting postoperative survival advantages for married people and may relate to the role of social supports in influencing patients' choices of hospitals and their self-care," the authors wrote.

The study was published in the online Oct. 28 issue of JAMA Surgery.