Study shows loneliness increases risk of heart disease, stroke

How often have we heard or read the phrase, "he died of a broken heart"? How about lovers who tell each other, "if you leave me, I will die" ?

Apparently there's some grain of truth in those statements. A recent study by the University of York pieced together 23 studies involving 181,000 people who were observed and monitored from three years to a maximum of 21 years.

(Image Credit: The Telegraph)

From this big group of people, 4,600 had coronary heart disease "events" like angina attack, heart attack and even heart-related death. More than 3,000 suffered a stroke.

What's interesting are the findings that adults who felt lonely or isolated are 29 percent more likely to suffer  from heart attack or angina, while 32 percent are more likely to suffer from a stroke.

The close association of loneliness with heart diseases and stroke approximates those of other known risk factors such as anxiety and job stress.

The Telegraph quoted Dr. Nicole Valtorta of the Department of Health Sciences of University of York as saying, "Our work suggests that addressing loneliness and social isolation have an important role in the prevention of two of the leading causes of morbidity in high-income countries."

The UK study strengthens what its Local Government Association said in January, that loneliness should be treated as a "major health issue". Social isolation reportedly affects thousands of people across the UK.

If the findings are true in the United Kingdom, it's true for all the lonely and socially isolated individuals in the world.

Loneliness and social isolation shouldn't be taken lightly because these can manifest in life threatening ailments.

Perhaps it's time we reach out to people in our circle or in our community, who express loneliness or are obviously unhappy. Making someone smile may go a long way in making his or her life a little happier and healthier.
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