When Loved One Is in ICU, Spouse Sees Health Risks

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay reporter

MONDAY, October 5, 2020 (HealthDay News) – If your husband or wife is hospitalized in intensive care, you’re more likely to have a heart attack or other serious heart problem in the next few weeks, a new study warns.

“Spouses of intensive care patients need to pay attention to their own physical health, especially in terms of cardiovascular disease,” said lead author Dr. Hiroyuki Ohbe, Ph.D. student at the School of Public Health, University of Tokyo.

The researchers analyzed data from a large Japanese database to compare more than 7,800 spouses of patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) for more than two days with a random group of more than 31,000 others.

The average age of the spouses was 54 and 65% were women.

Compared to others, people whose spouse was in intensive care had an increased likelihood of an event such as chest pain, heart attack, stroke, irregular heartbeat, heart failure, or a blood clot in the lungs (pulmonary embolism) within a month.

Spouses also had a higher risk of being hospitalized for heart disease and serious heart events, according to the study published Oct. 5 in the journal. Circulation.

The researchers described the study as the first to suggest that having a spouse in the ICU can put people at risk in this way.

“The ICU can be a stressful environment with a significant burden of care, and spouses can face difficult decisions about whether to continue or stop life-sustaining treatment,” Ohbe noted. “Admitting a patient to intensive care puts acute psychological stress on family members, and this stress can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially for the other spouse.”

More research is needed to confirm the results and assess whether changes in lifestyle, eating habits, alcohol consumption, and economic support play a role in this increased risk.

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SOURCE:Circulation, press release, October 5, 2020

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