A diabetic person can also share the chronic disease with his/her partner. Explaining this point, a new study found that living with a diabetic spouse nearly doubled a person's risk of developing the disease.

These findings are based on the initiative taken by a team of researchers from the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) in the US. Poor diet and lack of exercise are two major risk factors associated with diabetes. Dr Kaberi Dasgupta and her team based their theory on the simple fact that spouses often tend to share the same lifestyle.

For the study, they looked at 75,498 couples as part of six studies around the world. Dr Dasgupta analysed studies that used direct blood testing as a diagnostic method. The results showed that spousal diabetes increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 26 percent. Additionally, the occurrence was also directly linked to pre-diabetes, where blood sugar levels cross normal levels but do not reach a level to be described as diabetes.

Diabetes is a condition where a person's blood sugar levels become extremely high. When left untreated, the high sugar levels in the blood damages blood vessels, leads to hypertension and atherosclerosis (accumulation of plaque on the artery walls). These occurrences can lead to life-threatening conditions including heart failure and strokes.

Encouraged by their findings, researchers urged inclusion of spousal diabetes into the list of factors that increases type 2 diabetes. "When we look at the health history of patients, we often ask about family history," said Dr Dasgupta. "Our results suggest spousal history may be another factor we should take in consideration."

Researchers hoped that their findings will help improve the current methods available to detect diabetes. "The results of our review suggest that diabetes diagnosis in one spouse may warrant increased surveillance in the other," Dr Dasgupta, added. "Moreover, it has been observed that men are less likely than women to undergo regular medical evaluation after childhood and that can result in delayed diabetes detection. As a result, men living with a spouse with diabetes history may particularly benefit from being followed more closely."

The study has been published in the journal BMC Medicine.