Couples Should Tackle Heart Health Goals Together, Research Says

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital looked at more than 5,000 couples and analyzed their cardiovascular health risk factors based on the American Heart Association Life’s Simple 7 (LS7) design. The LS7 design describes seven risk factors for heart disease, including blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, activity level, diet, weight, and smoking status. The participants were organized into “ideal, intermediate, or poor health” categories and were also assigned a cardiovascular health score.

Based on questionnaires, exams, and lab tests, more than half of participants fell into the ideal range for smoking status, cholesterol, and blood sugar. More than one-quarter, however, were in the poor range for weight, physical activity, and cardiovascular health score—in fact, only 12% hit the ideal mark for the latter. 

Then the researchers compared the results of partners in each couple. They realized more than half of the couples shared all seven of the LS7 risk factors and cardiovascular health scores, and 79% of couples had both partners in the “non-ideal” category for cardiovascular health.

The main culprits? Unhealthy diet and inadequate exercise, which most couples tended to have in common.

“We know a lot about cardiovascular risk factors for individuals but not for couples,” study author Samia Mora, M.D., MHS, said in a news release. “We expected to see some shared risk factors, but it was a surprise to see that the vast majority of couples were in a non-ideal category for overall cardiovascular health.”

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