University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine

Don’t Pressure Me!

Study finds that unhappy marriages increase blood pressure

Researchers have found new evidence to support the adage that a bad marriage is bad for your health. A three-year study of more than 100 people with mild hypertension examined the effects of positive and negative marital relationships and found that unhappy marriages in fact do increase blood pressure. “If you had a bad marriage three years ago, three years later we found it was worse to be with your spouse because your blood pressure was raised compared to when you were not in his or her company,” says Dr. Brian Baker, lead researcher and associate professor of psychiatry. In good marriages, however, blood pressure went down when people were with their spouses. Though it has yet to be confirmed by further studies, Baker does not believe that marital discord alone can cause high blood pressure in people who are not already predisposed to it. The study was funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario.

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