New research at Brigham Young University reveals a link between happily married adults and lower blood pressure. Professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad discovered that men and women from happy marriages scored 4 points lower on 24 hour blood pressure monitoring than single adults. Furthermore, singles or unhappily married adults with good social supports did not show any improvement in ratings. The group with the highest blood pressure scores were those involved in unhappy marriages. Basically, the study implies that a happy marriage can provide health benefits.
The study observed 204 married and 99 single adults. Each wore blood pressure monitors for a 24 hour period. The monitors recorded roughly 72 times at random intervals including during sleep. Single adults completed questionnaires regarding their relationships with friends while married adults completed questionnaires regarding the relationship with their spouse.
Observations were noted regarding the drop in blood pressure during the night. "Research has shown that people whose blood pressure remains high throughout the night are at much greater risk of cardiovascular problems than people whose blood pressure dips."
A happy marriage will help to reduce stress and other negative factors impacting our health. The marriage bond acts as a continuous emotional support system. Caring spouses also encourage healthy habits.
The study’s results seem obvious in comparison to unhappy marriages, but it seems to be greatly lacking in information regarding other variables to assert that more positive health benefits result from a happy marriage than a happy single life.
The study did not give much detail regarding other aspects impacting on blood pressure scores, such as exercise habits, diet, smoking, employment type, financial status, presence of children, social life etc. Some of these could seriously impact the results.
It seems overzealous to suggest that a happy marriage is healthier than a social single life based on blood pressure results. The study doesn’t seem to have done much more than point out the obvious.
It would’ve been interesting to observe the differences in blood pressure levels over time for couples in counselling. Holt-Lunstad suggests that this could come next.