Study: Loneliness, Social Isolation Are Bad for Our Hearts

They may dramatically increase risk of heart attacks and strokes
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2016 5:15 PM CDT
Study: Loneliness, Social Isolation Are Bad for Our Hearts
Social isolation is increasing, and a new study says that's bad for our hearts.   (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Sgt. Pepper better have good insurance because—if its name is accurate—his Lonely Hearts Club Band has a dramatically increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. According to a study published Monday in Heart, people who feel lonely or are socially isolated have a 29% increase in risk of coronary heart disease and a 32% increase in risk of stroke. While previous studies have shown a person's general health is influenced by their social relationships, this may be the first to show "deficiencies in social relationships" are no good for your heart. Medical Daily reports researchers looked at 23 studies—a total of 181,000 people—about loneliness, social isolation, and health to come to their conclusion.

The Guardian notes that coronary heart disease and strokes are the two leading causes of death in first-world countries. And the new study shows loneliness and social isolation are bigger risk factors for those problems than either work stress or general anxiety. “People have tended to focus from a policy point of view at targeting lonely people to make them more connected,” the New York Times quotes study co-author Nicole Valtorta as saying. “Our study shows that if this is a risk factor, then we should be trying to prevent the risk factor in the first place.” The research is especially important as other studies show social isolation growing and young people feeling more lonely than ever before. (Also bad—and potentially lethal—for your heart? Heartbreak.)

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