Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy marriage and blood pressure

AP reports:
A happy marriage is good for your blood pressure, but a stressed one can be worse than being single, a preliminary study suggests.

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. ...

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.
The study is not freely available.

I don't see how they can conclude that a happy marriage causes low blood pressure. Maybe it is the opposite -- that low blood pressure causes marital happiness. Maybe people with low blood pressure are less irritable and easier to get along with.
Holt-Lunstad said her next step was to study couples participating in marriage counseling to see if improvement in the marriage translates into improved health.
While she is at it, maybe she should test whether blood pressure lowering drugs improve happiness in marriage.

Here is another new study:
Stressed parents aren't just damaging their own health - they may also be making their children more vulnerable to illness.

Stress is well known to affect a person's own physical health, but the effect on their children's health was unclear. To investigate, Mary Caserta and her colleagues at the University of Rochester in New York asked the parents of 169 children aged between 5 and 10 to monitor their child's health over three years, recording symptoms of illnesses and taking their temperatures. ...

Caserta's team found that the total number of illnesses, both with and without fever, was significantly higher in the children of parents who reported high levels of emotional stress.
Okay, maybe the stress is causing illness, but it seems just as likely to me that the parents are stressed out because their kids are sick all the time.

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