Loneliness and social isolation may increase the risk of having a stroke or developing heart disease, a new study suggests. The results indicate that the size of the effect is comparable to that of other recognised risk factors, such as anxiety and a stressful job.
Loneliness has already been linked to a compromised immune system, high blood pressure, and ultimately, premature death, but it was not clear what impact it might have on heart disease and stroke risk.
Researchers from University of York in the UK studied more than 181,000 adults including 4,628 coronary heart disease `events’ (heart attacks, angina attacks, death) and 3,002 strokes recorded during monitoring periods ranging from three to 21years.
Analysis of the data showed that loneliness social isolation was associated with a 29% increased risk of a heart or angina attack and a 32% heightened risk of having a stroke.