Experts at Tohoku University in Japan found people’s high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease were closely linked to that of their partner. Couples’ smoking and drinking habits, and their weight and waist size, were also similar.
Their study, which focused on 34,000 couples, suggested doctors could judge someone’s risk of a certain condition by looking at their partner, and as the links were so close, couples could receive the same healthcare.
The experts found someone was 37 percent more likely to be obese if their partner was.
Men’s high blood pressure risk was up to 45 percent higher if their wife had the condition, and people were up to 59 percent more likely to get type 2 diabetes if their spouse had it.
Dr Naoki Nakaya said: “Interventions or preventative measures may be more effective if targeted at both spouses rather than at individuals.”
Dr Nakaya explained reasons for the links may be people naturally linking up with someone with a similar lifestyle.
Also, couples tend to eat the same meals and do similar amounts of exercise.
Heart disease can be prevented a number of ways, including lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
One way to do this is by eating a healthy, balanced diet.
The NHS states: “A low-fat, high-fibre diet is recommended, which should include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (5 portions a day) and whole grains.
“You should limit the amount of salt you eat to no more than 6g (0.2oz) a day as too much salt will increase your blood pressure. 6g of salt is about 1 teaspoonful.
“There are 2 types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. You should avoid food containing saturated fats, because these will increase the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood.”
Foods high in saturated fat include meat pies, sausages, butter, cream, cakes and biscuits and foods that contain coconut or palm oil.
A balanced diet should still include unsaturated fats – these have been shown to increase levels of good cholesterol and reduce blockages in the arteries.
Foods high in unsaturated fat include oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds, and sunflower, rapeseed, olive and vegetable oils.
Too much sugar should also be avoided – this can increase your risk of developing diabetes, which can increase your risk of developing heart disease.
Another way to prevent heart disease is to be more physically active.
The NHS advises: “Combining a healthy diet with regular exercise is the best way of maintaining a healthy weight. Having a healthy weight reduces your chances of developing high blood pressure.
Regular exercise will make your heart and blood circulatory system more efficient, lower your cholesterol level, and also keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.
Exercising regularly reduces your risk of having a heart attack. The heart is a muscle and, like any other muscle, benefits from exercise. A strong heart can pump more blood around your body with less effort.”
Aerobic exercise, such as walking, swimming and dancing is recommended by the health body.
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