Mother Teresa had said; “The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.” It is true that being lonely could really be very hard for anyone and everyone. However, today loneliness is very much common than ever before and more and more people today are lonely. Loneliness could cause several health issues. But, can loneliness cause heart problem? Let us explore this!
Can Loneliness Cause Heart Problem?
Loneliness has been associated with an increased risk of heart stroke or heart attack. This is what it has been claimed and a research has been conducted in the University of York to find the truth behind it. As per the research, it was suggested that loneliness along with social isolation are known to be linked to an increase of heart attack by 29% and a 32% of increased risk of getting a heart stroke. The researchers of this study suggested that this increased risk of heart problems is comparable to other recognized psychological risk factors, such as stressful job and anxiety.
We will know about the research in a more precise way in the following section.
The research was a meta-analysis, or a type of research that looks at other existing studies on one particular topic and then analyses the complete collective data so as to see what could be learned from them. The research was very strong because of the fact that it analyzed longitudinal studies, which took collectively a large number of people, i.e. around 181, 000 for between 3 and 21 years. These longitudinal studies can actually be great at establishing relationships, and this is because the same individuals are being observed over a longer period of time.
The researchers who conducted the research study defined loneliness as, “a subjective negative feeling that is associated with a person’s perception that their relationships with any other person or persons are quite deficient”. However, as this is actually a subjective judgement, it highly depends on how exactly the person perceives this particular situation. So, the definition of loneliness can greatly vary between different participants.
The 23 number of studies that was analyzed in the research were a mix of research measuring loneliness(3 studies), social isolation( 18 studies) and a blend of the two(i.e. 2 studies). It must be mentioned that loneliness and social isolation are not the same thing. Loneliness is generally defined as someone feeling unhappy about a particular situation, a lack of relationships, or some kind of shortcomings in their social relationships; on the other hand, social isolation is the particular situation itself, having few social contacts.
People were included in case they expressed a kind of feeling that their social relationships with others are “deficient”. The researchers of this research also recognized that lonely and the socially isolated individuals are more likely to be physically inactive and to smoke; and thus there is an increased risk of heart problems in such people who survive loneliness.
However, there could be some possible weakness of this research study.
From the research it might be concluded that loneliness can cause heart problems. So, it is always essential for you to discuss all the aspects of health, including the physical as well as the mental health with your doctor. You can reduce the risk of heart problems by maintaining a healthy body weight, being physically active, eating heart-healthy foods, and by maintaining personal relationships that could not only be just fulfilling, but also be lifesaving.