Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Heart disease risk linked with spouses' social support

Date:
February 6, 2014
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Matters of the heart can influence actual heart health. A new study published shows that the ways in which your spouse is supportive -- and how you support your spouse -- can actually have significant bearing on your overall cardiovascular health.

Matters of the heart can influence actual heart health, according to new research. A study from researchers at the University of Utah shows that the ways in which your spouse is supportive -- and how you support your spouse -- can actually have significant bearing on your overall cardiovascular health.

Related Articles


The findings reveal that when both partners perceive the support they get from each other as ambivalent -- that is, sometimes helpful and sometimes upsetting- each partner's levels of coronary artery calcification (CAC) tend to be particularly high.

These results are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

"There is a large body of epidemiological research suggesting that our relationships are predictors of mortality rates, especially from cardiovascular disease," explains Bert Uchino, psychological scientist of the University of Utah. "But most prior work has ignored the fact that many relationships are characterized by both positive and negative aspects -- in other words, ambivalence."

Uchino and his colleagues -- Timothy Smith and Cynthia Berg -- were interested in exploring how this complexity in relationships predicts cardiovascular health.

The researchers instructed 136 older couples (63 years old, on average) to fill out questionnaires measuring their overall marriage quality, as well as their perceived support from their spouse. Specifically, they indicated how helpful or how upsetting their spouse was during times when they needed support, advice, or a favor. The researchers found that about 30% of individuals viewed their partner as delivering positive support, whereas 70% viewed their partner as ambivalent -- sometimes helpful and sometimes upsetting.

Using a CT scanner to check for overall calcification in the participants' coronary arteries, the researchers found that CAC levels were highest when both partners in the relationship viewed each other as ambivalent. When only one partner felt this way, the risk was significantly less. The effect was independent of gender, meaning that these associations were comparable for husbands and wives.

Given that the participants were married for an average of 36 years, one might predict that overall marital satisfaction would have a significant impact on this cardiovascular risk factor -- but the researchers didn't find that to be the case. It was the positive and negative aspects of lending support that were most significant in predicting cardiovascular health, suggesting that these factors exert their effects independently of overall marital quality.

It's not exactly clear why this is the case, but the researchers hypothesize that when both partners perceive each other as a source of ambivalence, it changes their behavior toward one another.

"The findings suggest that couples who have more ambivalent views of each other actively interact or process relationship information in ways that increase their stress or undermine the supportive potential in the relationship," says Uchino. "This, in turn, may influence their cardiovascular disease risk."

While Uchino and colleagues can't be certain that mutual ambivalence causes higher levels of CAC, since the study didn't follow participants over time, the results do provide the initial evidence necessary for longitudinal studies on relationship support and cardiovascular health.

Going forward, the researchers are interested in exploring the actual biological, social, and behavioral pathways linking relationship ambivalence and CAC levels, as well as ways to reduce ambivalence in important social ties.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. B. N. Uchino, T. W. Smith, C. A. Berg. Spousal Relationship Quality and Cardiovascular Risk: Dyadic Perceptions of Relationship Ambivalence Are Associated With Coronary-Artery Calcification. Psychological Science, 2014; DOI: 10.1177/0956797613520015

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Heart disease risk linked with spouses' social support." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140206101020.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2014, February 6). Heart disease risk linked with spouses' social support. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140206101020.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Heart disease risk linked with spouses' social support." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140206101020.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Fauci Says Ebola Risk in US "essentially Zero"

Fauci Says Ebola Risk in US "essentially Zero"

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said the risk of Ebola becoming an epidemic in the U.S. is essentially zero Thursday at the Washington Ideas Forum. He also said an Ebola vaccine will be tested in West Africa in the next few months. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nurse Defies Ebola Quarantine With Bike Ride

Nurse Defies Ebola Quarantine With Bike Ride

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) A nurse who vowed to defy Maine's voluntary quarantine for health care workers who treated Ebola patients followed through on her promise Thursday, leaving her home for an hour-long bike ride. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pot-Infused Edibles Raise Concerns in Colorado

Pot-Infused Edibles Raise Concerns in Colorado

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) Colorado may have legalized marijuana for recreational use, but the debate around the decision still continues, with a recent - failed - attempt to ban cannabis-infused edibles. Duration: 01:53 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
British Navy Ship Arrives in Sierra Leone With Ebola Aid

British Navy Ship Arrives in Sierra Leone With Ebola Aid

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) The British ship RFA ARGUS arrived in Sierra Leone to deliver supplies and equipment to help the fight against Ebola. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins