Social isolation raised that risk by about 30 percent, exerting the same level of influence on heart health as risk factors such as anxiety and job stress, the British review found.
"Addressing loneliness and social isolation could have an important role in the prevention of two of the leading causes of ill health and mortality worldwide," said lead researcher Nicole Valtorta, a research fellow in the department of health sciences at the University of York.
"We take risk factors like obesity and physical inactivity for granted, whereas we do not yet with social isolation and loneliness," she said. "The data from our study support us taking it seriously."
But this analysis could not prove that loneliness and social isolation caused heart problems or strokes, only that an association existed, she added.I spend some time almost daily in solitude - to me, it's refreshing and relaxing. Still, I can see how the connection of being truly lonely and health problems might be real - for example, less prodding for exercise, fewer reminders for taking medication, no one seeing signs of trouble. So if there's someone you care about who seems truly lonely - reach out!
(Photo from markplymouth via Flickr)