Social isolation, loneliness may raise your risk of heart failure

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Scientists have found that social isolation and loneliness are important risk factors for cardiovascular disease, but less has been known about their specific connection with heart failure.

In a study from Guangzhou Medical University and elsewhere, researchers found that both social isolation and loneliness are associated with higher rates of heart failure but whether or not a person feels lonely is more important in determining risk than if they are actually alone.

Social disconnection can be classified into two different, but connected components.

“Social isolation” refers to being objectively alone or having infrequent social connections, while “loneliness” is defined as a painful feeling caused when someone’s actual level of social interaction is less than they would like it to be.

In the study, the team used data from the UK Biobank study, which followed population health outcomes over 12 years and assessed social isolation and loneliness through self-reported questionnaires.

They looked at health outcomes for a population of more than 400,000 middle-aged and older adults.

The researchers found that both social isolation and loneliness increased the risk of hospitalization or death from heart failure by 15% to 20%.

However, they also found that social isolation was only a risk factor when loneliness was not also present. In other words, if a person was both socially isolated and felt lonely, loneliness was more important.

Loneliness also increased risk even if the person was not socially isolated.

Loneliness and social isolation were more common in men and were also associated with adverse health behaviors and statuses, such as tobacco use and obesity.

The team says one reason for these findings might be that people can feel lonely even when they are in relationships or interact with others.

These findings indicate that the impact of subjective loneliness was more important than that of objective social isolation.

These results suggest that when loneliness is present, social isolation is no more important in linking with heart failure.

Loneliness is likely a stronger psychological stressor than social isolation because loneliness is common in individuals who are hostile or have stressful social relationships.

The findings are especially relevant as the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the impacts of social isolation and loneliness across a broad range of health outcomes.

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The study was conducted by Jihui Zhang et al and published in JACC: Heart Failure.

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