As women age, their risk of heart disease exceeds men’s largely because of decreased levels of estrogen that regulate vascular function.
In a new study, researchers found that eating alone may contribute to an increased risk of heart disease in older women.
Recent changes in society have meant that more people than ever are eating alone. Some of the primary reasons include a rise in the number of single-person households.
Social distancing protocols introduced in response to the COVID19 pandemic have further restricted eating meals with others.
Additionally, mobile platforms for food delivery services have become more popular, further motivating people to eat alone.
With more people eating alone, health concerns have been raised. A previous study reported that a higher frequency of eating alone is associated with a higher risk of abdominal obesity and elevated blood pressure.
When eating alone, people tend to eat faster, which often leads to increases in body mass index, waist circumference, blood pressure, and blood lipid levels, all of which can increase the risk of metabolic syndrome and heart disease.
Eating alone also can affect mental health and has been reported as a risk factor for depression, which is also linked with an increased risk of heart disease.
In this study, the team tested nearly 600 women aged older than 65 years.
They found that older women who ate alone had poorer nutritional knowledge and intake.
More specifically, it was found that older women who ate alone had lower intakes of energy, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sodium, and potassium that those who ate with others.
In addition, older women eating alone were 2.58 times more likely to have angina, a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart and a symptom of coronary artery disease.
These results suggest the value of nutrition education and heart screening for older women who mainly eat alone.
The team says older women who eat alone are more likely to have symptomatic heart disease.
Given that women live longer than men, finding ways for older women who are socially isolated to engage and create meaningful social ties may not only improve their nutrition but also their overall health while simultaneously reducing healthcare costs.
For more information about heart disease, please see recent studies about aspirin effective for preventing recurrent heart problems and strokes and results showing a new way to increase survival in a heart attack.
The study is published in Menopause. One author of the study is Dr. Stephanie Faubion.
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