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Feeling lonely could be major cause of heart disease

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Loneliness – and especially feeling lonely – doubles the chances of dying from heart disease in men and women, and is a bigger risk factor than smoking, drinking or being overweight.

People who live alone but still have an active social circle – and so don’t have feelings of loneliness – don’t seem to run the same risk, say researchers from Copenhagen University Hospital.

The researchers surveyed more than 13,000 heart patients and asked whether they lived alone or felt lonely or isolated. “It was important to collect information on both, since people may live alone but not feel lonely while others live with other people and still feel lonely,” explained researcher Vinggaard Christensen.

The risk of dying from heart disease was slightly higher among the women, but it was a major factor for both sexes, irrespective of whether they smoked, were heavy drinkers or were obese.

Loneliness is a growing social problem, and it’s something that health professionals need to factor in when assessing heart disease, the researchers say.

(Source: Proceedings of EuroHeartCare 2018, the European Society of Cardiology’s annual nursing congress, June 9, 2018)

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