Being socially isolated and alone are the unacknowledged risk factors for heart failure—but there’s another level that researchers have just discovered.
It’s not just being alone—it’s about feeling alone that really matters. When you live alone—and you feel alone—your risk of heart failure rises by as much as 20 percent. The feeling of loneliness even impacted on heart health when the person wasn’t socially isolated.
Researchers from the Guangzhou Medical University in China assessed the health of around 400,000 participants in the UK Biobank study and the impact of loneliness—and feelings of being alone—on heart disease and heart failure.
“Subjective loneliness was more important than objective social isolation”, explained researcher Jihui Zhang. People can feel alone and isolated even if they’re in a relationship if it is a hostile or stressful one.
These feelings may have been exacerbated during the recent Covid-19 lockdown when people were forced to stay apart.