It’s easy to joke around about how older married couples start to adopt each other’s mannerisms and behaviors. It’s even easy to joke that couples can start to look alike after decades of living together. Whether there’s truth to this or not is debatable, but science has shown that older married couples are often alike in one unique–and negative–way.
Older women that are married to men with cardiovascular illnesses tend to be more likely to suffer from cardiovascular illnesses themselves. This was the conclusion reached after more than 86,000 married couples were evaluated. While it already well-known that heart disease could be genetic, doctors now know that spouses also should be screened once heart disease is determined in a family.
Heart disease is not a joke. The World Health Organization lists forms of cardiovascular disease as both the number one and number two most deadly disease in the world. Ischemic heart disease takes the top spot while stroke takes number two.
The research that led to this discovery was conducted mainly in Japan. In Japan, the vast majority of the population lives past the age of 70, but because of heart issues, that quality of life isn’t always as high as it should be. Figuring out who is at higher risk of this, and taking those steps to alleviate the issue should help to make this happen.
The big thing to take away from this study is that it helps with the prevention of major cardiovascular events. If one individual in the relationship is diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol levels, the other is at a higher risk of this and they should be evaluated, too. This is an easy detection step, and it has the potential to save lives. With this increased knowledge about correlations, doctors can help elderly people identify risk more easily and prevent health problems before they get too bad.
Doctors are not a hundred percent sure why this correlation takes place. But they do believe that they have a few good ideas that can explain it. Married couples share a lot of things. They tend to have similar interests, diets, levels of exercise, and more. They often share habits, like alcohol and tobacco consumption. A lot of these shared interests could potentially heighten the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Most likely, this plays a strong role in why married couples can share risk levels when it comes to these types of illnesses. And as such, when one person needs treatment for something, it is important that the other half of the couple be evaluated to see if there is a need there, too.
Cardiovascular disease is one of the biggest killers in the U.S. Heart attack, stroke, and diabetes all have the potential to cut someone’s life short prematurely. Prevention can not only help someone avoid such a premature death, but can also help them to live a higher quality of life for much later into their life. It might seem like a small observation at first, but this finding might save a lot of lives.