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In sickness and in health

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Credit: Watanabe T, et al. BMJ Open 2020;10:e036281. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2019-036281 Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, killing nearly 18 million people annually, which is approximately the entire population of the New York metropolitan area. Now, researchers at the University of Tsukuba have shown that men bearing any or all of the major risk factors—hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia—are more likely to have wives who suffer from the same diseases.

The World Health Organization lists ischemic heart disease and stroke as the number 1 and 2 killers; together they account for 85% of all cardiovascular-related deaths and have occupied top position for over three decades. Cardiovascular disease is both genetically and environmentally determined, with the latter exerting a greater influence. Hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia are among the major risk factors and, though modifiable by drug therapy and behavioral change, are unfortunately becoming increasingly common.

In Japan, where over 83% of deaths occur after the age of 70, alleviating these chronic diseases will ensure that life is as healthy as it is long. Westernization of the diet, specifically reduced salt, has resulted in a drop in the incidence of hypertension, but causes increased obesity, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia.

“Married couples share food preferences and […]

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