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Loneliness and isolation can hurt the heart and shorten life: study

May 11, 2016

LonelinessArticle courtesy of Louise Bonquin Yibada

Loneliness can have far reaching health implications so it must be dealt with.

Loneliness can lead to heart disease and stroke, a new study revealed. It means that lonely individuals who are not in contact with their family and friends have higher chances of suffering from heart ailment. The research also shows that those who are not in a romantic relationship or is far from their partners belong to the “lonely” category too.

According to the study published in the cardiology journal Heart, social isolation increases the risk of developing heart disease or a stroke by about 30 percent. This is the same percentage in people who have high levels of anxiety due to their difficult and stressful jobs.

Likewise, loneliness and isolation have already been known to have negative impacts on human’s physical and mental health. For years, it is widely believed that severe loneliness can lead to higher risk of high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol and early death. In the past studies, it also showed that loneliness has the same effect as with smoking cigarette.

Now, with the latest research at the University of York in the United Kingdom which was spearheaded by Nicole Valtorta, the impact of loneliness and isolation to over-all wellness has expanded with the addition of cardiovascular issues. This new finding suggests that people who are socially active or have strong social relationships have lower chance of developing heart ailment.

“Addressing loneliness and social isolation could have an important role in the prevention of two of the leading causes of ill health and mortality worldwide,” The News Independent quoted Valtorta as saying.

The research team looked for evidence that loneliness is not good for heart’s health by reviewing some existing scientific writings on loneliness. The team specifically picked 23 studies for the review.

The papers have the data of about 181,000 people and the information was recorded in the span of three to twenty-one years. Around 4,600 of the adult participants were found to have had heart attacks while 3,000 more suffered from strokes. All the data point to the fact that social isolation and loneliness raise the risk of heart andangina attack by 29 percent and 32 percent for stroke.

Valtorta explains that loneliness affects people’s biological, psychological, behavioral and lifestyles because being isolated or lonely tend to make someone physically inactive. In addition, such people are likely to smoke and become obese as they do not care with their surroundings since no one is around them anyway.

Finally, the study suggests that social relations is very important not just for well-being but for health as well. Being happy and friendly are definitely sure ways to live longer and stay healthy for a long time.

Photo courtesy of: You Tube/Ross Rosenberg