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.
Main Outcome Measures
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, sr2 = 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.