Do couples share blood pressure?

If you have high blood pressure, there is a high chance that your spouse may, too. According to an international study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, among middle-aged and older heterosexual couples, there was a high incidence of both husband and wife having hypertension.

To find out if married couples mirror each other’s blood pressure status, the researchers analysed blood pressure measurements for 3,989 American couples, 1,086 English couples, 6,514 Chinese couples and 22,389 Indian couples.

The prevalence of both spouses having high blood pressure was 47 per cent in England, 38 per cent in the US, 21 per cent in China and 20 per cent in India. While women whose husbands had high blood pressure were 9 per cent more likely to have it themselves in the US and England, they were 19 per cent more likely in India and 26 per cent more likely in China to have it themselves, compared with women married to men without high blood pressure. Similar associations were observed for husbands as well. The results were similar regardless of a couple’s income, age, education or years of marriage.

“In China and India, there’s a strong belief in sticking together as a family, so couples might influence each other’s health more,” the study author said. “In collectivist societies in China and India, couples are expected to depend [on] and support each other, emotionally and instrumentally, so health may be more closely entwined.”