Loneliness increases the risk of heart disease by 30 percent, research finds.
Coronary heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in rich countries.
The conclusions come from a review of 23 studies including over 181,000 adults.
The researchers found that social isolation or loneliness was linked to a 32 percent increase in stroke risk and 29 percent increase of a heart or angina attack.
The study’s authors write:
“Our work suggests that addressing loneliness and social isolation may have an important role in the prevention of two of the leading causes of morbidity in high income countries.”
Writing in a linked editorial, psychologists Dr Julianne Holt-Lunstad and Dr Timothy Smith, say:
“With such rapid changes in the way people are interacting socially, empirical research is needed to address several important questions.
Does interacting socially via technology reduce or replace face to face social interaction and/or alter social skills?
Given projected increases in levels of social isolation and loneliness in Europe and North America, medical science needs to squarely address the ramifications for physical health.
Similar to how cardiologists and other healthcare professionals have taken strong public stances regarding other factors exacerbating [cardiovascular disease], eg smoking, and diets high in saturated fats, further attention to social connections is needed in research and public health surveillance, prevention and intervention efforts.”