How your relationship may be putting your heart at risk

RelationshipRelationships not only send our emotions in a whirlwind but they can also impact our health. Maybe you and your spouse had an argument and now you’re stressed out about it. Well, if you also have high blood pressure, that stress can take quite a toll.

Your physiology is closely linked with your own experiences and the experiences and perceptions of your partner, too! That’s according to a recent study published in The Journals of Gerontology about blood pressure implications brought on by negative relationship quality among older couples.

Looking into blood pressure and relationship stress


Looking into blood pressure and relationship stressBy using what’s called systolic blood pressure as a measure – the number you see on top when you check your blood pressure – researchers set out to determine whether a person’s blood pressure is influenced by their own chronic stress and that of their partner’s, and whether there are gender differences in these patterns.

While other studies have shown that negative relationships – filled with stress – can influence mortality and blood pressure, there haven’t been any studies revealing how such relationships might affect couples over longer periods.

In addition to supporting previous research that found that stress and relationship quality have both direct and moderating effects on the cardiovascular system, the latest finding shows that it’s important to consider the relationship in its entirety instead of the individual when examining a couple’ s overall health.

But most importantly, the findings reveal that the stress of a spouse has important implications for blood pressure, particularly in more negative relationships.

High blood pressure by the numbers

High blood pressure by the numbersOften without any symptoms or warning signs, high blood pressure is ominously known as the “silent killer.” Generally, high blood pressure increases the risk of more dangerous health conditions. For instance, an estimated 70 percent of people who have their first heart attack, roughly 80 percent of those who have a first stroke, and about 70 percent of those with chronic heart failure all have high blood pressure.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high blood pressure is either the primary cause of or at least contributes to 1,000 American deaths every single day.

New guidelines could save your life

Last year, researchers selected by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute released new and simplified guidelines for the treatment of high blood pressure. The complete implementation of these guidelines could prevent 56,000 cardiovascular disease events –
heart attacks and strokes mostly – and 13,000 deaths every year. That’s without increasing overall health care costs, according to research by Columbia University Medical Center and published in the online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Scientists here suggest that high blood pressure be treated more early, more regularly and more aggressively in women.

Researchers speculate that this latest finding published in The Journals of Gerontology may mostly be the result of individual’s growing reliance on their partners for emotional support, which may not be provided whenever those same partners are stressed themselves.

So the next time you feel your blood pressure rise because of relationship stress, just remember to “keep calm and carry on” – and keep the lines of communication open! Love is always better than war, so talk things over.


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