May 21, 2001 -- When you are with the one you love the lightness you feel in your heart may just be your blood pressure dropping.
A new study reports that when people were with their spouses or partners their blood pressure lowered slightly. It didn't matter if the relationship was a loving or positive one, either. Even if the relationship was not a particularly happy one, blood pressure still dropped a bit.
"The lowering was not a big difference, but it's significant," said lead author of a study, assistant professor of psychology Brooks Gump, of the State University of New York at Oswego.
Familiarity Breeds Lower Systolic Numbers
For the most part, participants' systolic blood pressure went down an average one point, said Gump. The study looked at 120 participants who wore blood pressure monitors over a six-day period.
The fact that blood pressure lowered even with participants who weren't in happy relationships suggests that part of the reason for the drop was the fact that the relationship was familiar and that participants were in predictable situations, Gump said.
"People in poor relationships tended to avoid their spouses more, but overall their blood pressure still went down when they were together," Gump said.
Another report, from the Washington, D.C.-based National Institute of Medicine, took a look at the relationship between health and behavior and found that intimate relationships tended to add years to one's life. It recommends more studies to take a look at overall behavior and its effect on health.
"There is an idea that relationships can become a protective device against heart disease," said Gump. "There needs to be more of a look ."
Studies in the United States, Scandinavia and Japan have consistently shown that people who are isolated or disconnected from others are at an increased risk of dying prematurely, the National Institute of Medicine study said. The report looked at previous studies and their findings and described interventions that could maintain or improve health.
There is a need for examining social relationships in early and later life and the importance of deep, meaningful, loving human connections and how intimate relationships or their lack affect health, the study said.