Heart illnesses can make a person’s health really vulnerable. It takes a lot of time, effort, routine and cares to completely banish the illness. And there is something that could actually jeopardize your recovery and exacerbate the heart problem. Loneliness! There is a strong link between loneliness and cardiovascular health. Read on to find out how being alone can worsen your heart health.
What is the situation so far?
Loneliness is a fairly recent phenomenon, but it has spread its tentacles and an alarmingly large percentage of the population is in its grips today. More people than ever before are living all by themselves, which triggers despondency and the feeling of being left out. And even if they are around people, they may cut off from them in terms of communication and emotional exchange.
Humans are not meant to live a secluded life. So naturally, a number of ugly psychological illnesses stem from loneliness.
As if that were not enough, it turns out that even the heart is not spared from the disastrous effects of loneliness.
Can loneliness cause heart problems?
Scientists and medical experts have long had a hunch that loneliness and its co-occurring psychological complications have a detrimental effect on the recovery of heart ailments. So a number of studies have been conducted to corroborate this claim with statistics.
This is what the scientists found-
Recovery slows down or reverses in people who have been diagnosed with arrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, heart valve problems or heart attack if loneliness enters the picture.
This conclusion was arrived at after meticulous data mining. Patients who were admitted to hospitals with heart diseases were treated and discharged. After discharge, they all had to fill out a questionnaire on the state of their health, their psychological health, and whether they were witnessing anxiety or depression. Then databases were analysed to see how many of them lived alone or had poor social networks. It turned out that most of the people who felt lonely and miserable reported greater levels of anxiety and depression.
A year later, follow-up researches found that the people living alone (the ones who had reported higher degrees of anxiety and depression) fared poorly compared to heart patients with a support network.
The loneliness and cardiovascular health link is stronger in women than in men. This study found that women who felt lonely were three times more likely to die of cardiovascular illness than their happier counterparts were. While the risk of death by heart illnesses increased two-fold in lonely men than other men.
Another study found a clear link between loneliness prompted by social isolation and increased risk of a coronary heart ailment.
So the relation between loneliness and cardiovascular health cannot be ruled out even though science is yet to understand what one has to do with the other.
Loneliness is a risk factor when it comes to heart health, and it needs to be acknowledged so that healthcare initiatives can target this problem and find a solution.
- Deccan Chronicle