We know how difficult loneliness is to live with on a psychological and emotional level. But in a press release from the American Heart Association published this Thursday, August 4, specialists reveal that it would also have a direct impact on the heart. (source 1)
First, it is important to differentiate loneliness from social isolation.
Social isolation is characterized by lack of regular social interactions. As for loneliness, it’s rather a feeling. Thus, one can be surrounded but feel alone. None of these phenomena is good for the organism.
“Over forty years of research has clearly demonstrated that social isolation and loneliness are both associated with adverse health effects”said Crystal Wiley Cené, who led the group that drafted the statement.
32% more likely to suffer from a stroke
With her team, Crystal Wiley Cené analyzed the results of research published up to July 2021. This review revealed that “loneliness and social isolation frequent but underestimated factors” affecting the heart, in addition to blood vessels and the brain.
The researchers found that the risk of stroke increased by 32% and that of heart attack by 29% in lonely people.
“Social isolation and loneliness are also associated with a worse prognosis in people who already have coronary heart disease or stroke”underlined Dr. Cené.
Thanks to this discovery, scientists hope for better care for patients.
“There is an urgent need to develop, implement and evaluate programs and strategies aimed at reducing the negative effects of social isolation and loneliness on cardiovascular and brain health”said Dr. Cené.
“Clinicians should ask patients about their frequency of social activity and whether they are satisfied with their level of interactions with friends and family. They should then be prepared to refer socially isolated or lonely people – especially those who have a history of heart disease or stroke – to community resources to help them connect with others.”