People with heart disease who are lonely, socially isolated, and live alone are more likely to die prematurely, according to an international study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine. The researchers investigated how these factors could predict the long-term risk of death in this study population.
The systematic review—which spanned several decades and included 35 studies from Europe, North America, and Asia—sheds new light on the negative health effects of loneliness, social isolation, and living alone for people with heart disease.
“Our review found that each of these factors are critically important to consider in the treatment of cardiovascular disease, as increased levels of loneliness, social isolation, and living alone appear to lead to premature death,” said Róisín Long, a student in the Doctoral Programme in Clinical Psychology at University of Limerick in Ireland.
The researchers found that living alone was associated with an increased risk of death. Interestingly, the researchers also found that the effects of living alone were stronger in European countries, possibly due to the high number of single people in Europe.
“Social health factors such as loneliness and social isolation have gained a significant amount of attention recently and are really important to think of within the context of cardiovascular health,” explained Long.
Ms. Long stated that the study’s findings are likely due to several factors. These range from peer support to an individual’s biological response to stress.
“While supporting public health concerns surrounding loneliness and social isolation, the study points to the need for rigorous research in this area across a greater range of geographical regions,” the researchers concluded.
Source: Medical News