Conventional risk factors largely explain the links observed between loneliness/social isolation and first time heart disease/stroke, finds the largest study of its kind published online in the journal Heart. But having few social contacts still remains an independent risk factor for death among those with pre-existing cardiovascular disease, the findings show. Recent research has increasingly highlighted links between loneliness and social isolation and cardiovascular disease and death. But most of these studies have not considered a wide range of other potentially influential factors, say the authors. In a bid to clarify what role these other factors might have, they drew on data from nearly 480,000 people aged between 40 and 69, who were all part of the UK Biobank study between 2007 and 2010. Participants provided detailed information on their ethnic background, educational attainment, household income, lifestyle (smoking, drinking, exercise) and depressive symptoms. They were also asked a series of questions to gauge their levels of social isolation and loneliness. Height, weight, and grip strength were measured, and blood samples taken. Their health was then tracked for an average of 7 years. Nearly one in 10 (9%) respondents were deemed to be socially isolated, 6 percent lonely, and 1 percent… Read full this story
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