Couples often have diseases, even if they are not contagious

Memory researcher Fabricio Ballarini says couples often rely on each other’s brains to store and recall memories. When a partner dies or leaves, a part of the other half-memory seems to disappear as well. This unique connection between long-term partners not only affects their memories and habits but also has physical effects. A recent study published in the American Heart Associations journal analyzed data from more than 30,000 couples worldwide and found that 20%-50% of them share hypertension.

Among heterosexual couples aged 50 to 75, hypertension affects 37.9% in the United States, 47.1% in England, 20.8% in China, and 19.8% in India. In countries where hypertension is less common, women’s health is more affected. Compared to women married to men with normal blood pressure, American and English women living with a hypertensive man had a higher probability of having hypertension themselves (9% and 19%, respectively). Similarly, Chinese women have a 26% higher probability. The percentages are comparable among husbands in the countries studied.

The authors concluded that a coordinated intervention for couples can effectively combat hypertension. These interventions include attempts to identify and implement lifestyle changes such as increased physical activity, stress reduction and dietary changes. Both individuals in a relationship must adopt these changes together to facilitate introduction and maintenance.

Couples often share more than just hypertension. A study conducted by Tohoku University (Japan) and Groningen University (Netherlands) revealed that many couples have the same blood pressure level, cholesterol level and even diseases such as diabetes. the BMJ The medical journal published another study that found that partners of individuals with certain non-communicable diseases have a higher risk of developing them. For conditions such as asthma, depression and stomach ulcers, the risk increases by at least 70%.

Matching habits and genetics

Couples often have habits such as exercising, and drinking alcohol and tobacco. They also have similar body measurements. People usually choose partners who are similar in terms of education, economic status, social environment and even genetics. A 2013 study published in PNAS found that couples have greater genetic similarity compared to randomly selected individuals, although this similarity is much smaller than factors such as education level. Although the exact mechanisms behind mate selection are not fully understood, it appears that we are attracted to those who are similar to us. This may partly explain why couples who have lived together for a long time often have similar health conditions.

Over time, physical synchronization is accompanied by a psychological rhythm that strengthens its effect on the health of partners. According to a study conducted by Shannon Meja, a specialist in the health of couples at the University of Illinois, beliefs about aging are contagious and affect the health of partners. If you stop doing sports because you think you’re too old, that negative view becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Similarly, the belief that aging is inevitable and unstoppable can hinder action. Understanding the habits, rituals and beliefs couples develop over years of living together can help gerontologists support successful aging, Meja said.

Make a medical appointment as a couple

Gonzalo Grandes, head of the Primary Care Research Unit in Bizkaia (Spain), says, The concept of family medicine comes from recognizing the equality of couples and their children. Despite this, we still tend to rely on individual medicine in practice, with another clinical history that fails to provide valuable information for treatment. For Grandes, a comprehensive family perspective is essential to addressing issues such as childhood obesity. This includes focusing on nutrition and physical activity, which are the responsibilities of parents or other adults who care for children. In theory, it is widely accepted that structuring socio-health interventions at the family and community level is essential for health promotion. However, implementing this approach can be challenging due to its complexity.

According to Isabel Egocheaga of the Spanish Society of General and Family Physicians (SEMG), while hospitals do not usually schedule appointments for couples, it is common practice in family medicine. It’s more common among older couples, than younger ones, he said. Often, we check-up together, and some couples both take Sintrom [an anticoagulant] and do all necessary follow-up work together. Like the authors of the article published by the American Heart Association, Egocheaga believes that couples can better control hypertension by doing things together, such as reducing salt intake and exercising.

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