A new study published in Menopause has found that strong social support may reduce the risk of heart disease in older women.
This study is the largest to date to evaluate the effect of social support on heart disease and all-cause mortality in women.
The research was reported by the North American Menopause Society (NAMS).
Previously, scientists have found that the rates of heart disease have declined in recent decades, but it remains a primary cause of death in Americans.
Although traditionally heart disease is thought of as primarily a man’s disease, women’s rates of heart disease have nearly caught up to men’s rates in recent years.
Studies have been focused on various risk factors, such as high blood pressure and smoking.
In this study, the researchers focused on the effects of social support on heart disease and used the data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI).
They followed the health data of participants in the WHI nearly 11 years and found that in older women, perceived social support is linked to a slightly lower risk of all-cause mortality.
Although the association is described as modest, it remains significant.
The researchers suggest that these results demonstrate the benefits of social support in either promoting stress relief or helping to buffer stressful life events.
They also suggest further work is important to confirm the findings.
According to the researchers, If psychological or social support could help prevent heart disease in women, scientists need further studies to determine what support would be most helpful.
The lead author is Nancy Freeborne from George Mason University.
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Further reading: Menopause.