Harvard Health Letter

Loneliness and isolation raise risk for stroke and heart disease, study suggests

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A high-stress job and anxiety have long been recognized as risk factors for coronary artery disease and stroke. Now a study published online April 19, 2016, by the journal Heart suggests that loneliness and isolation are just as dangerous. Researchers analyzed the data from 23 studies that involved more than 180,000 adults over periods ranging from three to 21 years. They noted that loneliness or social isolation was associated with a 29% higher risk of coronary artery disease and a 32% higher risk of having a stroke. The study doesn't prove that loneliness or social isolation causes these problems, but it adds to concerns about loneliness, which has already been linked to a compromised immune system, high blood pressure, and even an early death. Best way to fight back: reach out to loved ones and friends, volunteer at a local charity, join a spiritual community, or hire a companion.