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Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania published a study saying that the quality of interactions among partners in marital relationships (married or living with a partner) can influence the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

 

To find out the link between marital relationships and CVD, the researchers assessed 281 healthy and employed middle-age adults who were married or were living in with a partner in a marital relationship. The researchers monitored the hourly interaction of the couples in 4 days. At each hour, the subjects assessed whether their interaction with their partner had been positive or negative.

 

Risk of CVD was assessed by measuring the thickness of the subjects’ carotid arteries. These are major vessels that supply the neck and head with oxygen-rich blood. Thick and narrow arteries boosts risk of CVD.

 

The researchers found out that subjects who reported negative interactions had thicker carotid arteries. Calculations revealed that these subjects had an 8.5% greater risk than their counterparts to develop CVD.

 

The team said that these results were consistent regardless of other factors that could affect CVD, including age, race, gender, personality factors and other types of social interactions. Lead author Nataria Joseph noted that the implications of the study not only affect CVD research. They also comment on the fact that serious romantic relationships play a significant role in overall health.

 

‘Health care providers should look at relationships as a point of assessment. They are likely to promote health or place health at risk.’

 

While the study linked risk of CVD to quality of the marital relationship, the researchers clarified that they cannot establish a causal relationship between the two.

 

 

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