Heart Health

Does loneliness play a role in cardiovascular problems?

Staying connected to friends, neighbors, and your community may protect your heart.

 Image: © StockPlanets/Getty Images

The lonely hearts club may be larger than you realize. About a third of older adults say they frequently feel lonely, according to findings from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project. And only about half of Americans have meaningful in-person social interactions on a daily basis, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending time with family members, suggests a recent survey by the global health service company Cigna.

People whose main social contacts were at their place of work often feel that loss acutely after they retire. Many older adults are also at risk for isolation and loneliness because they're divorced or have lost a partner. But a lack of caring companionship (including from family, friends, or a romantic partner) may make you more vulnerable to a number of health woes. In fact, several studies suggest that isolated and lonely people face a slightly higher risk of heart attack or stroke than people with stronger social networks.

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