Love and hypertension: Couples may share high blood pressure

If one spouse or partner in a heterosexual relationship has high blood pressure, the other partner is likely to have it too, says a news study. The study, which included participants from the United States, England, China, and India, shows that the prevalence of both partners having high blood pressure is significant.

Understanding the link between high blood pressure in couples can help raise awareness among young adults about the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and seeking medical advice when necessary. Lifestyle changes, such as being more active, reducing stress, and eating a healthier diet, can all contribute to better blood pressure management.

The researchers analysed data from over 30,000 couples and discovered that in England, about 47% of couples had high blood pressure, followed by 38% in the United States, 21% in China, and 20% in India. The study also found that wives whose husbands had high blood pressure were more likely to have high blood pressure themselves, with similar associations observed for husbands.

Interestingly, the association between couples’ blood pressure status was stronger in China and India compared to the United States and England. The researchers suggest that cultural factors may play a role, as collectivist societies in China and India emphasize the importance of sticking together as a family, potentially leading to couples influencing each other’s health more.

These findings, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, highlight the potential of using couple-based approaches for diagnosing and managing high blood pressure. Couple-based screenings, skills training, or joint participation in programs could be effective ways to address this health issue.

It is important to note that high blood pressure is a significant health concern worldwide. In the United States, for example, nearly 120,000 deaths were primarily attributed to high blood pressure in 2020, and over 46% of adults had high blood pressure between 2017 to 2020.

Bethany Barone Gibbs, an associate professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the School of Public Health at West Virginia University, suggests that interventions targeting spouses may be especially effective in controlling hypertension. She also emphasizes the need for a broader approach that considers various factors at the individual, interpersonal, environmental, and policy levels to reduce the global burden of hypertension.