Do you have high blood pressure? Your spouse might too, study finds

A nurse takes a man's blood pressure during a free health assessment, 2013.
A nurse takes a man's blood pressure during a free health assessment, 2013. Copyright Lea Suzuki/San Francisco Chronicle via AP
By Euronews
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A new study of co-habiting heterosexual couples from across the world found that partners may share high blood pressure. Go figure.

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Are you both in a heterosexual relationship and have high blood pressure? The chances are your live-in partner will have high blood pressure too, a new study claims.

In 20 to 47 per cent of married or partnered couples living in the same household who were middle-aged or older, both partners had high blood pressure, according to the research published on Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The multinational study was carried out in the US, England, China and India.

“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,” senior author Chihua Li, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Michigan in the US, said in a statement.

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

The study included 3,989 US couples, 1,086 English couples, 6,514 Chinese couples and 22,389 Indian couples.

High blood pressure more common in US and UK

The prevalence of both partners in England having high blood pressure was 47 per cent. In the US, it was 38 per cent, while in China it was 21 per cent and in India 20 per cent.

Wives whose husbands had high blood pressure were 26 per cent more likely in China to also have it compared to those married to people without high blood pressure.

In India, wives whose husbands had high blood pressure were 19 per cent more likely to also have it, while in the US and England, they were 9 per cent more likely. There were similar associations for husbands.

A man wearing a cuff getting a blood pressure reading.
A man wearing a cuff getting a blood pressure reading.American Heart Association

“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,” Peiyi Lu, a post-doctoral fellow in epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, said in a statement.

“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”.

Limitations of the study included that it included only one blood pressure measurement for participants and that it only looked at heterosexual couples.

The authors said that this study shows the potential for couple-based treatments of hypertension.

According to the EU’s statistics agency Eurostat, 22 per cent of people in member states have high blood pressure.

Studies have shown that high blood pressure is one of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular diseases including heart attack, heart failure, and stroke.

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