In Sickness & In Health: Married Couples Share Susceptibility To Heart Disease

Wives of men with major cardiovascular disease risk factors—namely hypertension, diabetes and dyslipidemia—are more likely to suffer from the same disorders.

AsianScientist (Oct. 2, 2020) – In a study of nearly 87 thousand married couples in Japan, researchers have found that men with risk factors for cardiovascular disease are more likely to have wives who suffer from the same diseases. These findings have been published in BMJ Open.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, killing nearly 18 million people annually, approximately the entire population of the New York metropolitan area. Hypertension, diabetes and dyslipidemia are among the major risk factors and, though modifiable by drug therapy and behavioral change, are unfortunately becoming increasingly common.

In Japan, where over 83 percent of deaths occur after the age of 70, alleviating these chronic diseases will ensure that life is as healthy as it is long. Westernization of the diet, specifically reduced salt, has resulted in a drop in the incidence of hypertension, but has also caused increased obesity, diabetes and hyperlipidemia.

“Married couples share food preferences and meal patterns, lifestyle with regard to levels of activity, attitudes to physical exercise, and usage of cigarettes and alcohol,” explained Professor Takehiro Sugiyama of the University of Tsukuba, Japan. “Concordant disease patterns within couples may refer to risks of chronic diseases that could be reduced by changing daily habits, rather than unmodifiable genetic risks.”

The researchers conducted a cross-sectional study of 86,941 married couples over the age of 40 across Japan. Using logistic regression, they modeled husbands undergoing treatment for hypertension, diabetes and dyslipidemia as the exposure and their wives undergoing therapy for the same disease as the outcome. Features that could skew the results such as residence, education, age, habits, expenditure and access to healthcare and health groups were also factored in to determine the degree of spousal concordance.

Because spouses often influence personal habits, the researchers also evaluated models excluding the wife’s smoking and alcohol history. The findings were clear: wives were significantly more likely to be receiving therapy for the same diseases as their husbands.

“Our findings stress that healthcare professionals should target not only patients’ blood-relatives, but also their spouses,” said study senior author Professor Nanako Tamiya, also from the University of Tsukuba. “Medical information should include the partner’s data. In addition to optimizing individual therapy, family-based interventions are needed. Couples too need to appreciate their influence on each other’s health patterns.”

The article can be found at: Watanabe et al. (2020) Concordance of Hypertension, Diabetes and Dyslipidaemia in Married Couples: Cross-sectional Study Using Nationwide Survey Data in Japan.


Source: University of Tsukuba; Photo: Shutterstock.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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