Couples may share high blood pressure issues

Couples may share high blood pressure issues

Being in a relationship is known to have positive health benefits like reducing anxiety and boosting longevity. But it can also increase the odds of having something less desirable in common: high blood pressure.

When one partner or spouse has hypertension, it’s more likely that the other partner does, too. That’s the takeaway from a recent study by University of Michigan researchers, who looked at blood pressure metrics among more than 33,000 couples in the U.S., England, China and India. The study is the first of its kind to look at high blood pressure among heterosexual couples in high- and middle-income countries.

The overall prevalence of hypertension in two partners or spouses was highest in England and the U.S., at 47% and 38%, respectively. Wives in India and China who had a hypertensive spouse were at least 19% more likely to have high blood pressure themselves.

High blood pressure is more common in the U.S. and England than in China and India, but the researchers found a stronger association between couples’ blood pressure in the two Asian countries. The researchers don’t know why that is, but they do have a theory: Cultural norms in India and China emphasize a cohesive family structure. As couples depend on each other, it’s possible their health issues become more closely entwined.

The researchers say the findings are significant because high blood pressure is one of the most modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Health-improvement messages aimed at spouses could be especially effective.

So, there’s one more thing happy couples might consider adding to their wedding registry: a blood pressure cuff.


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