Social isolation and loneliness are both independently linked to a heightened risk of developing heart failure, according to new research published in JACC: Heart Failure.
In addition, the study’s authors noted, feeling lonely appears to influence a person’s risk of heart failure more than literally being alone.
“These findings indicate that the impact of subjective loneliness was more important than that of objective social isolation,” senior author Jihui Zhang, MD, PhD, a specialist with Guangzhou Medical University in China, said in a prepared statement. “These results suggest that when loneliness is present, social isolation is no more important in linking with heart failure. Loneliness is likely a stronger psychological stressor than social isolation because loneliness is common in individuals who are hostile or have stressful social relationships.”
Zhang et al. explored data from more than 460,000 patients who participated in the U.K. Biobank study. For the sake of this analysis, social isolation was defined as “being objectively alone or having infrequent social connections.” Loneliness, on the other hand, was defined as “a painful feeling caused by a discrepancy between one’s desire for connections and the actual degree of connections.” Participants indicated if they experienced social isolation or loneliness by answering questionnaires.
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