Bad Relationships Put Your Heart At Risk In More Ways Than One


How would you rate your relationship?: image via mydearvalentine.comHow would you rate your relationship?: image via mydearvalentine.comA bad relationship may end in a 'broken heart,' but research indicates stayng in a bad relationship is really bad news for your heart.  It can lead to cardiovascular disease or stroke.

A new study, undertaken by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and published online in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, examined 4 days worth of hourly, participant-assessed, relationship-interaction data from 256 subjects, men and women who were healthy, employed, and middle aged (average age was 42). This self-assessment data was then correlated to each subject's ultrasound test that measured the thickness of the intima and media layers of their carotid arteries. This test (IMT) is used to detect early risk of heart disease or stroke, because it reveals plaque formation in the carotid artery.

Plaque buildup in the carotid artery puts you at higher risk of heart disease and stroke: image via bartleby.comPlaque buildup in the carotid artery puts you at higher risk of heart disease and stroke: image via bartleby.comThe subjects who reported more negative interactions with their partners during the 4-day period had thicker carotid arteries than those who reported more positive interactions with their partners.  This was evidenced even when all other behavioral and biological risk factors were taken into account.  The data was consistent despite the race, sex, age, and education level of the participants.

Nataria Joseph, lead author of the study, says the data is significant but not conclusive, as it was captured in a short period of time - 4 days. Though a strong correlation exists, causality has not been proven.

"What it does show," says Joseph, "is that health care providers should look at relationships as a point of assessment." (Relationships) "are likely to promote health or place health at risk," she said.

Again, the average age of these participants was 42.  It would be interesting to see this study conducted with an even older, say 60's, age group.


sources: Psychosomatic Medicine, University of Pittsburgh News via Science Daily