To Your Health
April, 2016 (Vol. 10, Issue 04)
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Are You So Lonely You Could Die?

By Editorial Staff

"I'm so lonesome, I could cry," croons Hank Williams in the famous song by the same name.

But recent research suggests loneliness could lead to more than just tears – it could be associated with an increased risk of life-threatening heart problems.

The review study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Heart and based findings on an analysis of 23 previously conducted studies involving nearly 2,000 healthy adults, noted an association between loneliness / social isolation and risk of heart disease / stroke. Lonely and isolated people were 29 percent more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease (heart disease or angina) and 32 percent more likely to suffer a stroke. The researchers were quick to note that the former doesn't necessarily cause the other, and future research is warranted.

This isn't the first time loneliness has been linked to health problems, including immune system depression and high pressure. Add in the potential for life-threatening heart problems and it's clear that, as the researchers suggest, loneliness and social isolation should be taken seriously as public-health issues.

If you consider yourself lonely and/or social isolated, particularly if it's a long-term state, talk to your doctor about what you can do about it.