Loneliness increases the risk of death for those with cardiovascular disease.
A new Irish study sheds new light on the negative impact of social isolation on the health of people with heart disease.
Loneliness, social isolation, and living alone are associated with the premature death of people with cardiovascular disease, new research from the University of Limerick in Ireland has revealed. The results of the new international study have been published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine. The cardiovascular disease most commonly refers to coronary heart disease, stroke, and other blood vessel diseases. The research was conducted by Róisín Long, a student in the Clinical Psychology doctoral program at UL, under the supervision of Dr. Páraic Ó Súilleabháin and Dr. Ann-Marie Creaven. “Social health factors, such as loneliness and social isolation, have received a lot of attention lately and are really important to consider in the context of cardiovascular health,” explained lead author Róisín Long, a practicing clinical psychologist. “Our review found that each of these factors is critically important to the treatment of cardiovascular disease, as the reasons are likely to be diverse, from support from another person to how an individual responds biologically to stress .”
The review included studies that have followed people for decades in different regions of the planet, including Europe, North America and Asia. Each factor was predictive of mortality risk. Interestingly, the effects of living alone appeared stronger in European countries, perhaps due to the large numbers of people living alone in those different parts of the continent.
“While supporting public health concerns related to loneliness and social isolation, the study highlights the need for rigorous research in this area across a broader range of geographic regions,” the researchers concluded. Páraic Ó Súilleabháin, PhD Program Coordinator in Clinical Psychology and director of UL’s Laboratory of Personality, Individual Differences, and Biobehavioral Health (Pathlab), explained: “This work provides very important insights into the importance of these factors in health and in longevity. These are clear factors that must be taken into consideration and which lead to the development of interventions for all those suffering from cardiovascular disease”.