<img src=”https://storage.googleapis.com/prod-zenger-storage/image/d2e05b78-6ecb-439f-98dc-4cfc099f79a4.jpg” alt=”Up to half of middle-aged couples may both have potentially fatal high blood pressure, warns a new study. VLADA KARPOVICH/PEXELS”>
Up to half of middle-aged couples may both have potentially fatal high blood pressure, warns a new study.
Researchers found that spouses or partners in heterosexual relationships may have high blood pressure levels that mirror one another.
The study involved married or partnered, middle-aged and older heterosexual couples in England, USA, China and India.
The prevalence of both having high blood pressure was highest in England (47 percent) and the United States (38 percent), according to the findings published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Spouses whose partner had high blood pressure – also known as hypertension – were more likely to also have it in China and India.
Study senior author Dr. Chihua Li, of the University of Michigan in the US, said: “Many people know that high blood pressure is common in middle-aged and older adults, yet we were surprised to find that among many older couples, both husband and wife had high blood pressure in the US, England, China and India.
“For instance, in the US, among more than 35 percent of couples who were ages 50 or older, both had high blood pressure.”
Previous studies have examined the union of high blood pressure and other diseases among couples in a single country or used small regional samples.
But study co-lead author Dr. Jithin Sam Varghese, of Emory University in the US, said: “Ours is the first study examining the union of high blood pressure within couples from both high- and middle-income countries.
“We wanted to find out if many married couples who often have the same interests, living environment, lifestyle habits and health outcomes may also share high blood pressure.”
The research team analysed blood pressure measures for 3,989 U.S. couples, 1,086 English couples, 6,514 Chinese couples and 22,389 Indian couples.
The average age of husbands in the study was 74.2 years in England; 65.7 in the US.; 61.5 in China; and 57.2 years in India. The average age of wives in the study was 72.5 in England; 62.9 in the US; 59.2 in China and 51.1 in India.
Study co-lead author Dr. Peiyi Lu, of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in the US, said: “High blood pressure is more common in the US and England than in China and India.
“However, the association between couples’ blood pressure status was stronger in China and India than in the US and England.
“One reason might 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.”
Researchers suggest “couple-based interventions” to improve high blood pressure diagnosis and management, such as couple-based screening, skills training or joint participation in treatment programs.
Professor Bethany Gibbs, of the American Heart Association (AHA), said: “These findings are important because hypertension is among the most dominant modifiable cardiovascular risk factors and remains highly prevalent and poorly controlled on an increasingly global level.
“As the authors point out, the current focus of clinical and public health strategies to control hypertension on the individual level is not adequate.
“The authors suggest that interventions that target spouses may, thus, be especially effective,”
She added: “Following this idea, 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.
“These findings also hint at a broader approach – interventions using a socio-ecological model considering determinants of hypertension across individual, interpersonal, environmental and policy levels are likely going to be necessary to reduce the global public health burden of hypertension.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker