ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (WPVI) -- There are many unanswered questions in medicine.
Now, cardiologist in Saudi Arabia has solve one of them - what effect does having multiple wives have on man's heart?
Research presented today at a cardiology conference indicated polygamy poses a serious danger.
In a study conducted at 5 hospitals, Dr. Amin Daoulah found that men with multiple wives face 4.6 times the risk of coronary artery disease.
They also face 3 and a half times the rate of narrowing in the left main artery of the heart.
And the risk increased with the number of wives.
While there's a long record that married people have better overall health and longevity, Dr. Daoulah says, "Until now, no study has assessed the effect of polygamy on cardiovascular health.
In parts of Africa, the Middle East, central Asia and southeast Asia, men may have up to 4 wives at the same time, though they may live in different regions, and not necessarily under the same roof.
His study found that men with more than 1 wife were likely to be older, live in a rural area, have a higher income, and a higher history of heart bypass.
Dr. Daoulah says men with multiple wives may need multiple incomes, too, aside from the government support families receive in Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E.
He says the added pressure of extra jobs or traveling to urban areas for higher paid work are likely causing the higher heart disease rates.
"Each household must be treated equally and fairly, and it seems the stress of doing that ... is considerable," says Dr. Daoulah.
Long-term stress in family life is a well-known factor in heart disease, but this study didn't full account for other factors, such as physical activity and dietary habits.
So experts at the conference called for more research on the topic.
Polygamy raises mens' heart risk by 4-fold
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