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Increased risk of death from heart attack or stroke for people with loneliness


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The risk of social isolation increases with age and depends on factors such as widowhood and retirement.

Social isolation and loneliness related to 29% increased risk of fatal heart attack and a 32% increased risk of death strokeaccording to American scientists.

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THE related publication in the “Journal of the American Heart Association” takes into account all the latest data on the issue, which, as pointed out, is quite important from a public health point of view, given the increasing isolation of many people.

The risk of social isolation increases with age and depends on factors such as widowhood and retirement. It is estimated that in developed countries such as the US, almost a quarter of people over 65 are socially isolated, and loneliness is even higher (22% to 47%).

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Scientists stress that both social isolation and loneliness do not only affect the elderly, but younger adults as well. The so-called “Generation Z” (those who are 18 to 22 years old today) are considered to be the loneliest generation in history, which is attributed, among other things, to the extensive use of social media that has led to fewer meaningful interpersonal contacts. The Covid-19 pandemic also played a role in that case.

Although social isolation and loneliness are related, they are not the same thing. Social isolation is defined as the objective scarcity of face-to-face contact and social relationships within the context of family, friendship, or community in general. Loneliness is the subjective feeling that one feels alone (even if there are others around) or that one has less connection with other people than desired. Some people may live a relatively isolated life but not feel lonely, while others may have a lot of social contacts but experience loneliness, according to the scientists.

The researchers emphasize that:

– Social isolation and loneliness are common but underrecognized risk factors for cardiovascular and brain health.

– Lack of social connectedness is associated with an increased risk of premature death from all causes, especially in men.

– Loneliness and social isolation are associated with increased markers of chronic inflammation in the body and more frequent symptoms of chronic stress.

– Depression can lead to social isolation, but the latter can also increase the likelihood of depression.

– Social isolation during childhood is associated with increased cardiovascular risk factors after adulthood, such as obesity, hypertension and elevated blood sugar levels.

– Both social isolation and loneliness are associated with a worse prognosis for those with a diagnosis of coronary artery disease or a history of stroke.

– Heart patients who are socially isolated generally have two to three times the risk of death. Socially isolated adults with fewer than three social contacts per month have a 40% increased chance of another stroke or heart attack.

– Five-year survival is less frequent (60%) in patients with social isolation, compared to those who have more social contacts and are not depressed (almost 80%).

– People with social isolation and/or loneliness are less likely to do beneficial activities for their brain and heart health, such as physical activity/exercise, eating fruits and vegetables, avoiding smoking, etc.

– Some groups of the population are more vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness, such as children, racial and ethnic minorities, members of the LGBTI community, People with Disabilities, those living in rural and disadvantaged areas, the digitally illiterate and those without internet access, immigrants, prisoners, etc.


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