Research finds the link between feelings of loneliness and poorer outcomes in patients with different cardiovascular diseases. Just how much can loneliness affect an individual’s life?
Loneliness And Health
Previous studies have pointed out its negative health impacts of loneliness and even eating alone has been found to be rather bad for the health. The findings of a recent study presented at the EuroHeart Care 2018 also tackled the matter of loneliness, but particularly in terms of its possible association with poor outcomes in people with different cardiovascular diseases.
Although previous studies have already linked loneliness and social isolation with stroke and heart disease in the past, the current study did so in patients with four different kinds of cardiovascular disease. Specifically, researchers investigated on the possible link between feelings of loneliness and poorer outcomes in over 13,000 patients with arrhythmia, ischaemic heart disease, heart failure, and heart valve disease.
Measures Of Health And Loneliness
Some of the data was gathered using the DenHeart survey. In it, patients discharged from five heart centers in Denmark between April 2013 until April 2014 were asked about their mental and physical health, as well as about their social support and lifestyle factors like drinking and smoking.
In regard to social support, researchers gathered registry data to determine whether the patients were living alone or cohabitating, and patients were also asked survey questions about feelings of loneliness.
Researchers believe this was an important step in data gathering as there are people who live alone and don’t feel lonely, whereas there may be people who live with other people but still feel lonely.
Poorer Health Outcomes, Symptoms Of Anxiety And Depression
What researchers found is that the patients who reported feelings of loneliness had poorer health outcomes regardless of the type of cardiovascular disease, and even after accounting for age, education, BMI, alcohol intake, and smoking.
Furthermore, both women and men who reported feelings of loneliness had a lower quality of life and were three times more likely to report having symptoms of anxiety and depression. In terms of mortality risk, the women who felt lonely doubled their mortality risk, while the men nearly doubled the mortality risk compared to those who did not feel lonely.
Basically, the individuals who reported having feelings of loneliness were found to have poorer health outcomes, poorer mental health, lower quality of life, and were more at risk of premature death. Further, the results also showed how, in both women and men, feelings of loneliness is a stronger predictor of poorer outcomes compared to living alone.
“We live in a time when loneliness is more present and health providers should take this into account when assessing risk,” said Ms. Anne Vinggaard Christensen of the Copenhagen University Hospital, study author.
The study results were presented at the European Society of Cardiology’s annual nursing congress.