Shared socio-demographic and environmental factors could result in spousal concordance for conditions like hypertension. Credit: S. Priyadarshini

Men whose wives have hypertension are 37% more likely to have it themselves, while women are 32% more likely to have hypertension if their husbands are affected, a study in India says1.

Researchers at Emory University, Atlanta, and George Institute, Delhi investigated the occurrence of spousal concordance – a situation where both spouses have the same health condition – for hypertension in India. They used data from the National Family Health Survey-4 to explore whether identifying hypertension in one spouse could help detect it in the other.

The study examined data from 136,432 heterosexual couples of reproductive age using a stratified, two-stage probability sample survey. They defined hypertension based on blood pressure measurements and self-reported history. The analysis factored in individual and household characteristics known to influence hypertension risk. This method allowed the researchers to separate the effect of a spouse's hypertension status on the likelihood of the other spouse also having hypertension, beyond shared socio-demographic and environmental factors.

The data revealed that 29.1% of men (average age 38.8) and 20.6% of women (average age 33.9) in India have hypertension. The combined prevalence of hypertension among both partners in a marriage stands at 8.4%. Spousal concordance for hypertension was stronger among younger couples and those in lower wealth quintiles.

These figures account for various known risk factors, underscoring the influence of shared lifestyle and health habits within marriages.The researchers suggest couple- or family-centered interventions to improve hypertension screening, diagnosis, and treatment efforts in India. This could also address the large gap in undiagnosed cases, they say.