Link between Social isolation and a death risk from a stroke or heart attack
Social isolation and loneliness are associated with about a 30% increased risk of heart attack or stroke, or death from either, according to a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association.
The risk of social isolation increases with age due to life factors, such as widowhood and retirement. Nearly one-quarter of U.S. adults ages 65 and older are socially isolated, and the prevalence of loneliness is even higher, with estimates of 22% to 47%. However, younger adults also experience social isolation and loneliness. A survey from Harvard University's Making Caring Common project describes "Gen Z" (adults currently ages 18-22) as the loneliest generation. Increased isolation and loneliness among younger adults may be attributed to higher social media use and less engagement in meaningful in-person activities.
Data also suggests that social isolation and loneliness may have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly among young adults ages 18-25, older adults, women, and low-income individuals.
Evidence is most consistent for a link between social isolation, loneliness, and death from heart disease and stroke, with a 29% increase in the risk of heart attack and/or heart disease death, and a 32% increased risk of stroke and stroke death.
The review highlights research among older adults aimed at reducing social isolation and loneliness. These studies found that fitness programs and recreational activities at senior centers, as well as interventions addressing negative thoughts of self-worth and other negative thinking have shown promise in reducing isolation and loneliness.
Crystal Wiley Cené et. al, Journal of the American Heart Association, DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.122.026493
B.Sc Life Sciences, M.Sc Biotechnology, B.Ed