Tags: Heart Disease | cardiovascular disease | lonely | heart

Owners of a Lonely Heart at Greater Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

By    |   Wednesday, 22 June 2016 08:17 PM

A lonely heart could mean a damaged heart: Research suggests social isolation and loneliness contribute to cardiovascular disease.

Being alone or separated from a social circle may be more hazardous to heart health than obesity or high blood pressure, the Harvard Heart Letter reports. It recommends lonely people try to increase their friendships or become more connected to family and community to avoid heart problems. Counseling may also help.

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An analysis of 23 studies found that lonely people or those described as socially isolated were 29 percent more likely to have a heart attack or need surgery to clear heart arteries than people who were not isolated, according to the results published in the April 18, 2016, issue of the journal Heart. The lonely group was also 32 percent more likely to suffer a stroke.

The studies asked people to rate their levels of social engagement, and researchers followed the participants for three to 21 years to find out if they experienced heart disease or stroke.

"It’s not clear whether loneliness contributes to heart problems or is instead a symptom or consequence of poor health," the Harvard Heart Letter notes.

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Research by John Cacioppo, a social psychologist at the University of Chicago, also suggests that loneliness is linked to hardening of the arteries, a factor in the development of cardiovascular disease, LiveScience reports. People who are socially isolated have weakened immune systems, making them more vulnerable to illnesses and diseases.

Additionally, loneliness can raise stress hormones and blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. In these cases, blood circulation is disrupted so the heart has to work harder to pump blood, which damages adequate blood flow, says LiveScience.

A 2012 Harvard Medical School study of nearly 45,000 people with heart disease or at risk for it found that those who lived alone were more likely to die from a heart attack, stroke, or other heart-related issue during a four-year period, Time reported.

For people ages 45 to 65 in the study, living alone increased the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 24 percent.

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A lonely heart could mean a damaged heart: Research suggests social isolation and loneliness contribute to cardiovascular disease.
cardiovascular disease, lonely, heart
Wednesday, 22 June 2016 08:17 PM
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