BOSTON, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Constantly quarreling couples may disagree, but researchers at Harvard Medical School say they've discovered a distinct correlation between married people -- especially men -- and healthy blood pressure levels.
Blood pressure waxes and wanes over the course of a day. It starts at its lowest point in the morning, slowly increases throughout the day, and then begins to sink again at night. This decline is called "nocturnal dipping," and its an important part of the body's ability to regulate blood pressure.
In this latest study, the results of which were recently published in The Journal of Hypertension, researchers found people that were married experienced "nocturnal dipping" much more frequently and significantly than their single peers.
Study author Dr. Finnian R. McCausland said lack of nocturnal dipping is often associated with cardiovascular disorders.
The study tracked the blood pressure of 325 adults over the course of two years. Participants were required to follow a strict diet. The study accounted for interfering factors like socioeconomic status, age, diet and body mass index.
Study authors acknowledged that their findings are not causal but "independently associated."
“Being married may simply be a marker for those with better overall health status, nutritional status and psychiatric wellness,” the study authors wrote.
Dr. McCausland and his fellow researchers surmise that the social comforts of companionship may help people better manage stress levels and keep blood pressure under control.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, experienced over an extended period of time can damage the body, increasing the risk of heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure and other health problems.
[The Journal of Hypertension] [The New York Times]