Good Marriage Equals Good Blood Pressure
The Associated Press
Thursday, March 20, 2008; 8:58 PM
NEW YORK -- A happy marriage is good for your blood pressure,
but a stressed one can be worse than being single, a preliminary
That second finding is a surprise because prior studies have
shown that married people tend to be healthier than singles,
said researcher Julianne Holt-Lunstad.
It would take further study to sort out what the results mean
for long-term health, said Holt-Lunstad, an assistant psychology
professor at Brigham Young University. Her study was reported
online Thursday by the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.
The study involved 204 married people and 99 single adults.
Most were white, and it's not clear whether the same results
would apply to other ethnic groups, Holt-Lunstad said.
Study volunteers wore devices that recorded their blood
pressure at random times over 24 hours. Married participants
also filled out questionnaires about their marriage.
Analysis found that the more marital satisfaction and
adjustment spouses reported, the lower their average blood
pressure was over the 24 hours and during the daytime.
But spouses who scored low in marital satisfaction had higher
average blood pressure than single people did. During the
daytime, their average was about five points higher, entering a
range that's considered a warning sign. (That result is for the
top number in a blood pressure reading).
"I think this (study) is worth some attention," said Karen
Matthews, a professor of psychiatry, psychology and epidemiology
at the University of Pittsburgh. She studies heart disease and
high blood pressure but didn't participate in the new work.
Few studies of the risk for high blood pressure have looked
at marital quality rather than just marital status, she said.
It makes sense that marital quality is more important than
just being married when it comes to affecting blood pressure,
said Dr. Brian Baker, an associate professor of psychiatry at
the University of Toronto.
© 2008 The Associated Press