Comment: The quality of contact in marriage is linked to increases/decreases in blood pressure over 3 years.

Arch Intern Med.

2000 Dec 11-25;160(22):3453-8

Baker B1, Paquette M, Szalai JP, Driver H, Perger T, Helmers K, O’Kelly B, Tobe S.

1 3D Edith Cavell Wing, Toronto Western Hospital, 399 Bathurst St, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5T 2S8. [email protected]



Of psychosocial stressors, job strain has been associated with a sustained increase in blood pressure. The impact of marital factors on blood pressure and target organ has not been explored.


To evaluate whether marital adjustment, measured at baseline by self-report (Dyadic Adjustment Scale) influences left ventricular mass index (LVMI) and ambulatory blood pressure measured over 3 years in patients with mild hypertension.


A prospective cohort study was conducted on 103 cohabiting males or females, including 72 with technically adequate echocardiograms, who at baseline were unmedicated, employed, and living with a significant other, all for a minimum of 6 months and had repeated elevated office diastolic blood pressure.


Left ventricular mass by M-mode echocardiography indexed to body surface area and blood pressure were measured by ambulatory blood pressure every 15 minutes (daytime) and hourly between 11 PM and 7 AM.


Marital adjustment, smoking, drinking, and baseline LVMI contributed significantly to the prediction of 3-year LVMI (semipartial correlation, sr(2) = 0.04, 0.07, 0.03, and 0.22; P =.03,.008,.08, and <.001, respectively) together accounting for 36% of the total variability in follow-up LVMI. Three-year ambulatory blood pressure measures were not significantly related to marital adjustment but there were correlations with Dyadic Adjustment Scale subscales. Low or high levels of spousal contact during 3-year ambulatory blood pressure monitoring were associated with an increase or decrease of 3-year, 24-hour diastolic blood pressure, consistent with the quality of marital adjustment (P =.04) or marital satisfaction (Dyadic Adjustment Scale subscale, P =.008).


In a cohort of subjects with mild essential hypertension, marital adjustment had an influence on 3-year LVMI. Depending on the quality of marital adjustment, spousal contact at 3 years was associated with an increase or decrease of 3-year diastolic blood pressure. Confirmation of these results, including objective marital assessment and the participation of normotensive subjects, is required. Arch Intern Med. 2000;160:3453-3458.