- Dr. A new study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital reveals that couples can influence one another’s overall risk of heart health.
- Both bad and good habits are likely to be shared between couples — as well as families.
- With a few tweaks to your lifestyle, there is potential to promote and share positive, healthy habits that have a lasting effect on your whole family’s heart health.
Much like the old trope of owners who end up looking like their pets, it can be said that couples also start to exhibit a likeness in their significant other. Whether a couple starts to dress alike, eat the same diet or enjoy the same activities, it is safe to say that couples tend to become more like their partner, than not — even when it comes to their overall health.
With the potential for bad habits to be passed along to your partner — as well as the whole family — there is also the potential to promote and share positive, healthy habits that have a lasting effect.
Breaking down the study of unhealthy habits
Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital — Samia Mora, M.D., MHS, Dov Shiffman, PhD., Judy Louie, MS., James Devlin Ph.D. and Charles Rowland MS. — aimed to ask the question: Do couples influence one another’s overall risk of heart health?
To figure this out, the team of researchers began analyzing 5,000 couples, who participated in an employee wellness program from Quest Diagnostics. Using cardiovascular health risk factors based on the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 (LS7) design, the team analyzed the couples.
The LS7 included monitoring the following in each individual:
- Smoking status
- Body mass index
- Level of physical activity
- Healthy diet score
- Total cholesterol
- Blood pressure
- Fasting glucose
Along with using the LS7, the researchers gave each participant an overall cardiovascular (CV) health score.
Do couples affect one another’s heart health?
When Dr. Mora and her team looked at individual participants, more than half were in the ideal category for the three LS7 risk factors: smoking status (never smoked), total cholesterol (<200 mg/dL), and fasting glucose (<100 mg/dL, Table 2.) Unfortunately, more than a quarter of the participants scored poorly when it came to physical activity, BMI and their CV score. Only 12% of participants were in the ideal category for CV health score.
But when it came to seeing the results, for the couples as a whole, researchers were were shocked by what they found.
When the team considered the couples together, more than half shared all LS7 risk factors, along with the CV health score. Overall, 79% of couples were both in the non-ideal category for the CV health score. This was due to their diet and lack of exercise. When one partner in a couple was in the ideal category, however, the other partner was more likely to also be in the ideal category.
“We know a lot about cardiovascular risk factors for individuals but not for couples,” study author Dr. Mora, M.D., MHS, said in a news release. “We expected to see some shared risk factors, but it was a surprise to see that the vast majority of couples were in a non-ideal category for overall cardiovascular health.”
Astonishingly, the research found this to be true: who we surround ourselves with really has a hand in who we are and how we live.
How can you promote a healthy heart?
Dr. Mora’s research indicates that couples can pass unhealthy habits to one another, but it leaves room to consider that the whole family might pass along bad habits. On the flip side, it also leaves rooms to pass along great, healthy habits to the whole family.
“Our data suggest that risk factors and behaviors track together for couples,” said Dr. Mora, with Harvard Medical School. “Rather than thinking about interventions for individuals, it may be helpful to think about interventions for couples or whole families. It’s important for people to think about how their health and behaviors may influence the health of the person(s) they are living with. Improving our health may help others.”
Our heart is responsible for pushing oxygen, fuel, hormones and other essentials to the rest of our body. The heart beats about 2.5 billion times in an average lifetime — it has a huge job. This is why it’s important to make sure we take care of it.
To promote a healthy, thriving heart, try to incorporate these practices into, and According To a New Study, This Supplement Could Be Life-Changing, your partner’s lives:
- Daily exercise
- Keeping body weight at a healthy level
- Avoid smoking
- Eat heart-healthy foods
- Keep stress to a minimum
- Don’t overeat
A healthy heart ensures that we can live a long, happy life. And at The Swell Score, we’re here to help you do just that.