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This Can Double Your Heart Disease Risk, New Study Shows

If your significant other develops it, you likely will too, says study.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab
Senior man suffering heart attack while jogging with wife.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for around one out of every four deaths per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are a number of factors that can increase your risk of developing it, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking. Now a new study claims that your relationship can also influence your chances of the deadly medical condition. Read on to find out what can increase your heart disease risk—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these 98 Symptoms To Watch For Even After COVID Vaccination.

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If Your Significant Other Gets Heart Disease, You Likely Will Too, Says Study

Grey haired man touching chest, feeling pain at home, mature woman supporting him.
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According to a new Chinese study set to be presented May 17 at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) heart disease often comes in pairs, meaning if your significant other develops it, you likely will too. Researchers involved in the study surveyed over 5,000 heterosexual couples over the age of 45 living in seven regions of China from 2014-2016. Participants provided information including their personal health history and that of their spouse—including risk factors such as BMI and blood pressure— lifestyle factors (physical activity, smoking and alcohol use) and also socioeconomic factors. 

The study's lead author, Chi Wang, MPH, research fellow at the Heart Health Research Center in Beijing, explained that it likely has to do with the fact that unhealthy habits are often shared between couples. 

"We found that an individual's cardiovascular disease risk is associated with the health status and lifestyle of their wife or husband," Wang explained in a press release courtesy of American College of Cardiology. "In addition to sharing lifestyle factors and socioeconomic environment, our study suggests the stress of caring for a spouse with cardiovascular disease may contribute to increased cardiovascular risk." Read on to see if it affects men or women most.

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Men are More Affected, According to the Findings

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Interestingly enough, the relationship between a spouse's history of heart disease and a person's own risk was more pronounced in men. "The health status and risk factors of women, who are the drivers of lifestyle in a majority of families in different cultural backgrounds, seem to affect their husbands to a greater extent than husbands' risk factors affect wives," Wang said.

"Family-centered health care plays an important role in chronic health care around the world. Our finding indicates caregivers' health should be monitored as well as that of their spouse in the community and primary care setting."

Researchers hope the findings "may encourage couples to engage in healthier behaviors together, including diet and exercise" to prevent or reverse heart disease. 

Read on for 3 other things that can raise your heart disease risk.

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Don't Eat a Diet High in Saturated Fats, Trans Fats, Salt or Cholesterol

Sausage links
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Consuming too many saturated fats, trans fats, and too much cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis, which is fatty plaque that can adhere to the inner walls of your arteries and clog them. Foods high in saturated fat include butter and lard, cakes and cookies, sausages, cheese and cured meats; sources of trans fats include some microwave popcorn, shortening, fried foods and stick margarine; and foods with the "bad" version of cholesterol are fried foods, fast food, processed meats and desserts.

RELATED: The #1 Cause of Heart Attack, According to Science

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Don't Forget to Get Physical Activity

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Staying physically fit can stave off heart attacks. Also, if you do suffer a heart attack, you will be more likely to survive it if you are physically fit. "Physical activities that involve steady, rhythmic movement of the legs and arms are called 'aerobic' exercises and are especially good for the heart. Examples include brisk walking, running, swimming, bicycling and dancing. Regular aerobic exercise conditions the heart to pump blood to the whole body," says the American Heart Association. "Work up to at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity activity (or an equivalent combination) each week."

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Don't Drink Too Much

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Heavy drinking can up your blood pressure, but also get you a peptic ulcer, cancer, liver disease and many other issues. Limit yourself to a glass or two of red wine, which has been proven to be good for the heart. And to protect your health, don't miss these Signs You're Getting One of the "Most Deadly" Cancers.