Heart Disease Often Comes in Pairs

By Ernie Mundell and Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporters

WEDNESDAY, May 5, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Couples share a lot of things together, but heart disease would not be on the couples list. However, new research from China shows that if your spouse has heart disease, you are also at high risk.

Living together can often mean that unhealthy habits are shared, the lead author of the study explained.

“We have found that an individual’s risk of cardiovascular disease is associated with the health status and lifestyle of his or her wife or husband,” said Chi Wang, researcher at the Heart Health Research Center. in Beijing.

Wang and his colleagues believe that if the results come from a study in China, they would likely apply worldwide.

An American expert agrees.

“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 heads clinical cardiology at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, At New York.


“We can assume that couples tend to share a lot of environmental factors, including where they live, what they eat, etc. If one smokes, the other can at least be exposed to second-hand smoke, ”he said.

In the new study, Wang’s group interviewed 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. heart disease.

The study found that people whose husbands had heart disease were more than twice as likely to have heart disease as those whose husbands did not have heart disease.

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

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

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


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

The study will be presented on May 17 at the annual meeting – conducted virtually this year – of the American College of Cardiology (ACC).

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

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

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


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

More information

The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a guide to a healthy heart.

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

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