Social isolation and loneliness increase heart disease risk in senior women

Asha Bajaj
3 min readFeb 3, 2022

#SocialIsolation; #SeniorWomen; #HeartDiseaseRisk

As social networks shrink, older adults are more at risk for social isolation and loneliness. Credit: Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at University of California San Diego

California: During the current pandemic, social distancing has been one tool used to reduce the spread of COVID-19. But data from a new study point to as much as a 27% increase in heart disease risk in postmenopausal women who experience both high levels of social isolation and loneliness.

The findings of the prospective study, published in the February 2, 2022 online issue of JAMA Network Open, reveal that social isolation and loneliness independently increased cardiovascular disease risk by 8% and 5% respectively. If women experienced high levels of both, their risk rose 13% to 27% compared to women who reported low levels of social isolation and low levels of loneliness.

“We are social beings. In this time of COVID-19, many people are experiencing social isolation and loneliness, which may spiral into chronic states,” said first author Natalie Golaszewski, Ph.D., a postdoctoral scholar at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at University of California San Diego. “It is important to further understand the acute and long-term effects these experiences have on cardiovascular health and overall well-being.”

Importantly, social isolation and loneliness are mildly correlated and can occur at the same time, but they are not mutually exclusive. A socially isolated person is not always lonely and conversely, a person experiencing loneliness is not necessarily socially isolated.

“Social isolation is about physically being away from people, like not touching or seeing or talking to other people. Loneliness is a feeling, one that can be experienced even by people who are regularly in contact with others,” said senior author John Bellettiere, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of epidemiology at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health.

Social isolation and loneliness are growing public health concerns as they are associated with health conditions that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease including obesity, smoking, physical inactivity, poor diet, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

When researchers included all of these health behaviors and conditions

Asha Bajaj

I write on national and international Health, Politics, Business, Education, Environment, Biodiversity, Science, First Nations, Humanitarian, gender, women