In a new study published in the Journals of Gerontology, Series B®: Psychological Sciences, researchers found that systolic blood pressure can be used as a gauge for relationship quality.
Researchers examined the associations among chronic stress, negative relationship quality, and systolic blood pressure over time among middle-aged and older husbands and wives. 1,356 co-habitating couples were assessed over a duration of 4 years and their blood pressure was measured over time.
The study revealed that wives’ stress has important implications for husbands’ blood pressure, particularly in more negative relationships, which shows that the effects varied by gender. Husbands had increased blood pressure when wives reported greater stress. However negative relationship quality predicted increased blood pressure when both members of the couple reported negative quality relations.
Researchers speculate that husbands were more sensitive to wives’ stress due to a greater reliance on their female partners for support, which may not be provided when their wives are under stress.
Kira S. Birditt, Nicky J. Newton, James A. Cranford, and Lindsay H. Ryan. Stress and Negative Relationship Quality among Older Couples: Implications for Blood Pressure. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci, April 7, 2015