2 hearts that beat as 1: Couples often share high blood pressure

Emory study reveals if one heterosexual partner has hypertension, the other is likely to develop it

When one spouse has high blood pressure, the other partner often does, too. That’s the latest finding from a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Co-led by Emory Global Diabetes Research Center’s Jithin Sam Varghese, the study reported partners in heterosexual relationships often experienced high blood pressure together.

“Our study is the first to examine the union of high blood pressure within couples from both high- and middle-income countries,” Varghese, a research assistant professor, told Emory University. “We wanted to see if many married couples who often have the same interests, living environment, lifestyle habits and health outcomes also share high blood pressure.”

The researchers analyzed 3,989 U.S. couples, 1,086 English, 6,514 Chinese and 22,389 Indian for the study. English couples were found to have the highest rate of shared hypertension — 47%. Next were Americans, with 38%, while 21% of Chinese couples and 20% of Indian ones had shared hypertension.

“Identifying ways to help couples address shared risk factors for cardiovascular disease may provide new approaches for preventing and treating hypertension,” Jared Reis, deputy branch chief for cardiovascular epidemiology at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, told Emory.

According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of American adults are hypertensive — with many of them being unaware. As there are often no obvious symptoms, it is known as the “silent killer.” Left untreated, high blood pressure can damage your circulatory system and contribute significantly to your risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke or other health threats.

“This is one time that the old adage, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’ is particularly apt,” the association reported. “It’s best to avoid high blood pressure altogether. Healthy lifestyle choices are a great place to start.

“With proper treatment and management, you can control your blood pressure to help you live a longer and healthier life.”