High Blood Pressure? Thank Your Spouse

Feel your blood pressure rising when your spouse is ruffled? You’re not alone. Marital discord contributes to hypertension, according to a study presented at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons meeting in Toronto.

While spousal problems do not actually cause hypertension, they may aggravate the condition, according to the study of 134 males and 71 females. The subjects, who were not yet being treated for mild hypertension, wore a continuous monitor that measured their blood pressure around the clock. They also answered a survey that evaluated marital “cohesion.” This was defined as engaging in outside interests together, having a stimulating exchange of ideas, laughing together, calmly discussing issues, and working together on projects.

The study reported that spousal contact affected blood pressure, both in positive and negative ways. In a poorly cohesive (“bad”) marriage, more spousal contact tended to raise blood pressure. In a cohesive (“good”) marriage, spousal contact lowered the blood pressure.

Addressing marital strain may help calm blood pressure but not necessarily cure it. For some people, the treatment of hypertension might include marital counseling.

If your blood pressure is unusually high, make sure you seek medical care. Should you need immediate medical attention, The Health Alliance Emergency Departments are nearby. They can be found at The Christ Hospital, The University Hospital, The St. Luke Hospitals, The Jewish Hospital and The Fort Hamilton Hospital.