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Married People Have Higher Blood Pressure

Other studies have found that couples may mirror each other’s blood pressure and other ailments

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Married People Have Higher Blood Pressure

Married people might live longer, but that doesn’t mean their health is necessarily optimal: Middle-aged and elderly heterosexual men and women could be at a greater risk of experiencing high blood pressure — if their significant other has it too, according to a heartbreaking study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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Study author Dr. Chihua Li, who’s a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan, said:

We were surprised to find that among many older couples, both husband and wife had high blood pressure.

For instance, in the US, among more than 35% of couples who were ages 50 or older, both had high blood pressure.

While previous studies had found that couples may mirror each other’s blood pressure and other ailments, they were generally conducted in small, regional or single-country settings.

This was the first study to look into “the union of high blood pressure within couples from both high- and middle-income countries,” according to co-lead author Dr. Jithin Sam Varghese of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

The team’s mission was to find out if a couple’s similarities — like shared interests, lifestyle choices and habits — also extended to the realm of hypertension. In other words, they wanted to find out if the mantra “happy wife, happy life” has a cardiovascular connotation.

In order to determine this husband and wife hypertension connection, the team analyzed blood pressure levels for 3,989 couples in the U.S., 1,086 UK couples, 6,514 Chinese couples and 22,389 Indian couples.

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A couple, in this particular relationship health study, was defined as a pair who was either married or partnered and living together.

The median age for husbands was 74.2 years in England; 65.7 in the US; 61.5 in China; and 57.2 years in India. For wives it was 72.5 in England; 62.9 in the US; 59.2 in China and 51.1 in India, per the study.

The study found that while overall blood pressure levels were highest in the West — 47% of the UK population and 38% in the US — the association between marital hypertension statuses was strongest in China and India.

Married People Have Higher Blood Pressure

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Specifically, women whose husbands had high blood pressure were 9% more likely to have it themselves in the US and England compared to their counterparts who weren’t afflicted by it.

However, they were 19% more likely in India and 26% more likely in China.

Findings were nearly identical for men married to women with and without high blood pressure.

Study co-lead author Dr. Peiyi Lu, of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, said that this discrepancy could be “cultural.”

In China and India, there’s a strong belief in sticking together as a family, so couples might influence each other’s health more.

In collectivist societies in China and India, couples are expected to depend and support each other, emotionally and instrumentally, so health may be more closely entwined.

Along with finding that married couples’ health is more intertwined than once thought, the study illustrates the extent to which high blood pressure impacts people worldwide.

Professor Bethany Gibbs, of the American Heart Association said:

Hypertension is among the most dominant modifiable cardiovascular risk factors and remains highly prevalent and poorly controlled on an increasingly global level.

As such, she suggests swapping out current individual-based anti-hypertension measures with interventions that target spouses like cardiovascular couples therapy.

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Proposed high blood pressure initiatives include couple-based screening, skills training, joint participation in treatment programs and other measures to improve marital health.

Making lifestyle changes, such as being more active, reducing stress or eating a healthier diet, can all reduce blood pressure.

However, these changes may be difficult to achieve and, more importantly, sustain if your spouse or partner — and greater family unit — are not making changes with you.

Earlier this year, University of Colorado researchers found that men who never married are more than twice as likely to die from heart failure within five years of diagnosis compared to married men or women of any marital status.

Meanwhile, a study published in “Global Epidemiology” found that marriage helps to reduce the death rate by a third for females — even among those who later divorced.

Source| NY Post


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