Senior couple blood pressure

Senior couple check blood pressure (© Miljan Živković - stock.adobe.com)

NEW YORK — Up to half of middle-aged couples may both be suffering from potentially fatal high blood pressure, a new study warns. Researchers discovered that in heterosexual relationships, both spouses or partners often exhibit similar blood pressure levels.

This study included married or partnered middle-aged and older straight couples from the United States, United Kingdom, China, and India. According to the results, the likelihood of both partners having high blood pressure was highest in the U.K. (47%) and the United States (38%). In China and India, there was a notable tendency for one spouse to have high blood pressure, medically known as hypertension, if their partner also had the condition.

“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 U.S., England, China and India,” says senior author Chihua Li, DrPH, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Michigan and the study’s corresponding author. “For instance, in the U.S., among more than 35% of couples who were ages 50 or older, both had high blood pressure.”

Prior studies have only looked at the connection between high blood pressure and other diseases couples experience within a single country or a small sample of people.

“Ours is the first study examining the union of high blood pressure within couples from both high- and middle-income countries,” adds study co-lead author Jithin Sam Varghese, PhD, an assistant research professor at the Emory Global Diabetes Research Center at Emory University in Atlanta. “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.”

blood pressure
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In total, the research team examined blood pressure measures from 3,989 U.S. couples, 1,086 English couples, 6,514 Chinese couples, and 22,389 Indian couples. The average ages of the men in this study ranged from 57 in India to 74 in the United Kingdom. For women, the ages ranged from 51 in India to 72 in the U.K.

“High blood pressure is more common in the U.S. and England than in China and India, however, the association between couples’ blood pressure status was stronger in China and India than in the U.S 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,” explains study co-lead author Peiyi Lu, PhD, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia Public Health, in a university release.

“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.”

The study authors believe that “couple-based interventions” could improve both high blood pressure diagnoses and management. These changes include couple-based screening, skills training, or joint participation in blood pressure treatment programs.

“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,” notes Bethany Barone Gibbs, PhD, FAHA, an associate professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the School of Public Health at West Virginia University.

“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,” Barone concludes.

“These findings also hint at a broader approach —interventions using a socioecological 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.”

South West News Service writer Stephen Beech contributed to this report.

The findings are published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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2 Comments

  1. Mindy says:

    Forgot doberman and Italian greyhound ❤️

  2. Muhammad Saifudin says:

    Lifestyle practices and preventive activities are important and may differ significantly in the countries studied. Over all, knowledge is a key but internalizing this knowledge of health and wellness is often another story, at least in my long experience as a health care provider. Also, there are alot of things against good health that face daily, particularly in industrialized countries such as the proliferation of fast foods, sugary soft drinks, excessively high sodium contents in many foods, even those considered ‘healthy’, excessively high sugar content particularly in cereals (aimed at children), ‘sport drinks’, high caffiene contents and marketing aimed at increasing desire for these products, falso claims of healthy foods and on the flip side, a big Pharm industry just waiting for all these horrible products and poor lifestyle chooses to kick in so they can provide costly, life long drug therapies. All driven by share holders and exccessive CEO salaries. Within this and other factors that can negatively impact health, (pollution, tobacco use, alchohol consumption, stress, etc) people must navigate. It can be difficult. No simple answers here. Again, education is important.