Isolation Blues

Social isolation may harm your heart

heart vascular health line art

Live Alone and Like It was the title of a 1936 best-seller about the joys of being single.  But single people might not like the results of a recent study showing that heart attack survivors have a 35 percent greater chance of dying after the first four years if they live by themselves and have limited social support.

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Part of the reason may be attributable to the group’s demographic characteristics.  The study found that single people were more likely to have an unhealthy body-mass index.  They were also more likely to be smokers.  The study suggested that the lack of social support meant that the group had no one around to encourage them to get more exercise, take their medication or make and keep physician appointments.

Cleveland Clinic experts have also studied this problem. “We know that in certain personality types, social isolation can be bad for the heart,” says Leo Pozuelo, MD, Section Head of consultation liaison psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic. “Being socially isolated can actually affect your heart rhythm. Depression and anxiety can also negatively affect your cardiac health.  Volunteer activities, structured recreational activities, even meeting a person routinely for coffee or a meal, all these efforts can pay off in making you feel better as well as having potential benefits for your heart health.”

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