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Loneliness can increase risk of heart disease

Wednesday 13th June 2018
People who are lonely are more likely to experience heart problems, according to a new study.
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Loneliness can increase the chances of people developing heart disease, according to a new study presented at EuroHeartCare 2018.

The Danish research was carried out to determine whether social connections were associated with worse health outcomes among 13,463 people in Denmark with ischaemic heart disease, arrhythmia, heart failure or heart valve disease.

It was shown that feelings of loneliness were associated with poor outcomes in all patients regardless of their type of heart disease, even after adjusting for age, level of education, other diseases, body mass index, smoking and alcohol intake.

Being lonely was linked to a doubled mortality risk in women and nearly the same margin of increase in men, with both genders also shown to be three times more likely to report symptoms of anxiety and depression when they were lonely, meaning they experienced a significantly lower quality of life.

For this study, loneliness was determined by whether or not the people involved were living alone, as well as their responses when asked whether they had someone to talk to when they needed it, or how alone they felt.

The researchers indicated that people with poor social support may have worse health outcomes because they have unhealthier lifestyles and are less compliant with treatment, as well as being more likely to be affected negatively by stressful events.

Study author Anne Vinggaard Christensen, a PhD student at the Heart Centre at Copenhagen University Hospital, said: "We live in a time when loneliness is more present, and health providers should take this into account when assessing risk. Our study shows that asking two questions about social support provides a lot of information about the likelihood of having poor health outcomes."

Written by Mathew Horton

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