Married couples often share high blood pressure, study shows

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Married couples often share high blood pressure, study shows
If your husband has high blood pressure, consider getting yours checked.Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images
  • High blood pressure is one the most common health conditions. It can lead to heart attack and stroke.
  • If your spouse has high blood pressure, you may too, according to a new study.
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Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the most common health issues among adults. Nearly half of the US adult population has the condition, which can be a silent killer because symptoms are not always obvious.

If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, or stroke, Business Insider previously reported.

But, according to a study published today from the Journal of the American Heart Association, paying attention to a particular factor — your spouse's blood pressure status — could clue you into your own risk.

Researchers from several American universities looked at data — including heart rate, alcohol consumption, BMI, and physical activity — from tens of thousands of heterosexual couples in China, India, the United States, and England between 2015 and 2019.

The researchers found that if a female spouse had male spouse with high blood pressure, they were more likely to have high blood pressure than those who were married to males without the condition. This was true for each of the four countries, with it being 9% more likely in England and the US, 26% more likely in China, and 19% more likely in India.

They found the same associations to be true across countries for male spouses married to women with high blood pressure, though the likelihood of this scenario was slightly lower.

The research offers a plan for taking charge of high blood pressure with your spouse

These findings provide an opportunity for couples to tag-team their wellness plans.

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"Our findings encourage married couples to seek out healthcare guidance as a pair," Chihua Li, one of the study's lead researchers, told Business Insider.

He recommended working with the same doctor to come up with a joint treatment plan, which could include diet and exercise changes for both spouses, and keeping each accountable for attending doctor's visits.

There were limitations to the researchers' study design, which could have impacted their findings, according to Li.

First, the researchers relied on just one blood-pressure screening per study participant, but clinical guidelines suggest taking the average of three screenings that are one to four weeks apart, for increased accuracy. This could have skewed the results, according to Li.

The results also cannot be applied to everyone, since the researchers only studied heterosexual couples.

How you and your partner can keep blood pressure in check

Since blood pressure is monitored with a blood pressure cuff, couples should encourage each other to stay on top of these readings, or even get them together, according to Li.

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"The only way to know is through routine visits with your physician or if you go sit down at the blood pressure machine at the supermarket," Dr. Jason McKnight, a primary care physician at Texas A&M University Family Care, previously told Business Insider.

If you or your spouse have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, there are a few ways you can work to lower it or help keep it at an optimal range.

A doctor may prescribe certain medications to lower blood pressure, or suggest lifestyle changes increasing exercise or reducing sodium intake, Business Insider previously reported.

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