We've all gotten in spats with our partners that have made us a little hot under the collar, but new research shows that the stress of constant relationship woes can actually cause your blood pressure to rise.
A recent study conducted at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research investigated the links between stress, negative marital quality and blood pressure in over 1300 cohabitating adults. Study participants underwent blood pressure assessments and completed a questionnaire in 2006 and 2010. Study authors found that stress and relationship quality directly affected the cardiovascular system and that negative relationship quality was associated with high blood pressure.
Furthermore, male partners had higher rates blood pressure when female partners were stressed than their female counterparts. But this doesn't mean men are the only ones at risk. If your partner happens to be pregnant, a spike in blood pressure can be a recipe for disaster.
These findings are very significant because I find that for many women, pregnancy can be a stressful time. Clearly, I am a high-risk obstetrician, therefore most of my patients usually have significant medical histories with previous pregnancy complications or underlying medical conditions. But one of the things I try impress upon all of my patients is that they have to do their part in finding methods relieve stress and develop relaxation techniques that work for them. Stress can affect cardiovascular system even before it leads to chronic high blood pressure, which can mean complications for both mom and baby.
Here are some ways couples can help destress and stay healthy -- especially during pregnancy:
Don't criticize -- It's very important for couples to be supportive of each other and remember the love that led you to starting a family together.
Sweat it out -- Studies show exercise can help calm stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins. Not to mention, yoga is a great way for pregnant women to stay healthy and prepare their body for delivery.
Meditate -- Taking the time to focus on yourself and your breathing can help reduce tension and relieve stress by giving you an extra boost of oxygen.
Don't be afraid to be intimate -- If sex is not contraindicated by your doctor, you should not give up on intimacy during pregnancy. But be sure to check with your doctor first.
Be open with each other -- Express your feelings in a respectful way and focus on suggestions that are constructive which will have a positive outcome on your relationship.
Have empathy -- Your pregnant partner is undergoing physical changes which make her feel vulnerable, it's important you support her throughout the process.
It's important for pregnant women to control their stress levels together with their partners. It's also imperative that their partners realize that negative relationship quality and stress could not only affect the pregnancy, but it can also affect a couple's overall health as the research shows that the effects of prolonged negative relationship quality runs both ways.
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