WASHINGTON — Turns out, when people say their heart is aching due to a minor squabble with their partners, they are not exaggerating, as generally perceived.
A fight with a spouse may end in hurt feelings, but for those with chronic conditions like arthritis or diabetes, according to a study conducted by the Penn State. Those arguments may have physical repercussions as well.
The researchers found that in two groups of older individuals — one group with arthritis and one with diabetes– the patients who felt more tension with their spouse also reported worse symptoms on those days.
“It was exciting that we were able to see this association in two different data sets — two groups of people with two different diseases,” said researcher Lynn Martire. “The findings gave us insight into how marriage might affect health, which is important for people dealing with chronic conditions like arthritis or diabetes.”
Martire said it’s important to learn more about how and why symptoms of chronic disease worsen. People with osteoarthritis in their knees who experience greater pain become disabled quicker, and people with diabetes that isn’t controlled have a greater risk for developing complications.
The researchers said that while previous research has shown a connection between satisfying marriages and better health, both physically and psychologically, there’s been a lack of research into how day-to-day experiences impact those with chronic illness.
“We study chronic illnesses, which usually involve daily symptoms or fluctuations in symptoms,” Martire said. “Other studies have looked at the quality of someone’s marriage right now. But we wanted to drill down and examine how positive or negative interactions with your spouse affect your health from day to day.”
Data from two groups of participants were used for the study. One group was comprised of 145 patients with osteoarthritis in the knee and their spouses.
The other included 129 patients with type II diabetes and their spouses.
Participants in both groups kept daily diaries about their mood, how severe their symptoms were, and whether their interactions with their spouse were positive or negative.
The participants in the arthritis and diabetes groups kept their diaries for 22 and 24 days, respectively.
The researchers found that within both groups of participants, patients were in a worse mood on days when they felt more tension than usual with their spouse, which in turn led to greater pain or severity of symptoms.
Additionally, the researchers found that within the group with arthritis, the severity of the patient’s pain also had an effect on tensions with their spouse the following day. When they had greater pain, they were in a worse mood and had greater tension with their partner the next day.
“This almost starts to suggest a cycle where your marital interactions are more tense, you feel like your symptoms are more severe, and the next day you have more marital tension again,” Martire said.
“We didn’t find this effect in the participants with diabetes, which may just be due to differences in the two diseases.”
Martire said the results could potentially help create interventions targeted at helping couples with chronic diseases.
“We usually focus on illness-specific communications, but looking at tension in a marriage isn’t tied to the disease, it’s not a symptom of the disease itself,” Martire said. “It’s a measure you can get from any couple.
It suggests to me that looking beyond the illness, to improve the overall quality of the relationship might have some impact on health.”
The study appears in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine.
New vaginal ring to prevent HIV, pregnancy is safe: Study
An experimental vaginal ring designed to prevent pregnancy and HIV looks safe, according to an early stage study.
The ring is designed to provide 90 days’ protection at a time. The dual-purpose ring releases the antiretroviral drug dapivirine and the contraceptive hormone levonorgestrel, said researchers led by Dr Sharon Achilles, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
This small, 14-day trial involving 24 women who were not pregnant and not infected with HIV was the first clinical study of the ring.
“We are very encouraged by our findings in this first-in-human study of the dapivirine-levonorgestrel ring,” said Achilles, an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences.
Its use resulted in sufficient levels of levonorgestrel to prevent pregnancy and adequate levels of dapivirine to reduce risk of HIV infection, the researchers noted.
There were no safety concerns, and the ring was well-tolerated, according to the Microbicide Trials Network study.
The researchers have started a second Phase 1 trial in which women will use the ring for 90 days.
“With a second study underway, we are another step closer to potentially having an easy-to-use product that can provide safe and effective, long-acting protection against both HIV and unintended pregnancy,” Achilles said in a network news release.
The research was funded by the US National Institutes of Health and presented Wednesday (Oct 24) at an HIV prevention conference, in Madrid, Spain.
Research presented at meetings is usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.