Heart disease often occurs in pairs


By Ernie Mundell and Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporters

WEDNESDAY, May 5, 2021 (HealthDay News): Couples share many things together, but heart disease I wouldn’t be on any couple’s list. However, new research in China shows that if your spouse has heart disease, you are also at high risk for it.

Living together can often mean sharing unhealthy habits, the study’s lead author explained.

“We have found that a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease is associated with the health status and lifestyle of their spouse,” said Chi Wang, a researcher at Beijing’s Heart Health Research Center.

Wang and colleagues believe that although the results came from a study done in China, they would probably apply worldwide.

A U.S. expert agreed.

“The results of this study are not surprising, as we know that cardiovascular disease is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors,” said Dr. Michael Goyfman, who runs clinical cardiology at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, in New York City.


“We can assume that couples tend to share many environmental factors, including where they live, what they eat, etc. If one smokes, the other may be at least exposed to Second hand smoke, “He said.

In the new study, Wang’s group surveyed more than 5,000 heterosexual couples over the age of 45 living in seven regions of China from 2014 to 2016. They were asked about their health, lifestyle, and risk factors. of heart disease.

The study found that people whose spouse had heart disease were more than twice as likely to have heart disease, compared to people who did not have heart disease.

The association between having a spouse with heart disease and a person’s own risk was especially strong in men. The study found that 28% of men whose women had heart disease also had heart disease, compared with 12.8% of men whose women did not have heart disease.

A man’s risk of heart disease was higher if his wife had a history stroke, obesity or to smoke.

The researchers said the prominent role women play in a family’s diet could help explain gender-based findings.


The risk of heart disease was 21% among women whose husbands had heart disease, compared with 9% of women who did not have heart disease. The risk of heart disease was higher in women with a history of stroke.

The study will be presented May 17 at the annual meeting (practically held this year) of the American College of Cardiology (ACC).

“In addition to sharing lifestyle factors and the socioeconomic environment, our study suggests that the stress of caring for a spouse with cardiovascular disease may contribute to increased cardiovascular risk,” Wang said in a ACC press release. “Our finding indicates that caregivers’ health should be monitored, as well as their spouse’s health in the community and primary care.”

For his part, Goyfman said that while sharing unhealthy habits could trigger heart disease in couples, the opposite is also true.

The new study “can encourage couples to engage together in healthier behaviors, including diet and exercise” to prevent or reverse heart disease, he said.


Because the findings were presented at a medical meeting, they should be considered preliminary until they are published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers one guide to a healthy heart.

SOURCES: Michael Goyfman, MD, director of clinical cardiology, Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, New York; American College of Cardiology, press release, May 5, 2021

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