Loneliness and social isolation can increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke by 30%

Lifelong social isolation and loneliness can greatly increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke, and with more single people in America than ever, experts fear there could be a surge in such cases in the future.

A scientific statement published Thursday in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that social isolation and loneliness are associated with a 30 percent jump in the risk of heart disease and stroke.

While lack of social interaction has been linked to all sorts of health problems, its strongest link may be related to cardiovascular problems. The added stress that can often be accompanied by isolation can put unnecessary strain on the body and cause harm.

Experts warn that two groups are particularly at risk. Older Americans, who are often lonely due to retirement and widowhood, and Generation Z, a group that has been called the loneliest generation. Long-term loneliness for Generation Z creates serious health problems for the future.

Experts warn that social isolation and loneliness can increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke later in life by about 30%. Polls show that Generation Z — the youngest American adults — are the loneliest (file photo)

“Over four decades of research have clearly demonstrated that social isolation and loneliness are associated with adverse health outcomes,” says Dr. Crystal Wiley Sene, who led the study. statement and works at the University of California, San Diego.

Experts write that social isolation is associated with an increase in all causes of death, with men at particular risk.

Dr. Crystal Wiley Sene (pictured) of the University of California, San Diego, said the results are

Dr. Crystal Wiley Sene (pictured) of the University of California, San Diego, said the results are “pretty significant” when you consider how many Americans suffer from loneliness.

Lonely people are more likely to suffer from chronic stress, which is one of the main factors affecting heart health.

They explain that social isolation is also associated with increased levels of inflammation throughout the body, which raises the risk of heart disease and stroke, among other health problems.

“There is strong evidence linking social isolation and loneliness with an increased risk of poor heart and brain health in general; however, data on association with certain outcomes such as heart failure, dementia and cognitive impairment is sparse,” Sene explained.

These data place two specific groups at high risk overall, both in adults and in the youngest parts of the US adult population.

Loneliness among the elderly is a well-documented phenomenon. Older people often do not have the opportunity or energy to participate in social activities in the way they could in their youth.

How Gen Z became America’s loneliest generation

Americans are lonelier than ever, and experts warn that the younger generation is actually feeling it the most.

A 2019 UCLA study found that 43% of Americans feel lonely, and 27% believe they rarely or never meet the people they hang out with.

The loneliness of each generation was assessed by UCLA researchers, and they were surprised to find that Generation Z was the most socially isolated.

Older generations have actually reported being less lonely than their younger peers, which is a departure from standard thinking.

Lonely people suffer worse from the general state of health – both physical and mental.

One of the most common causes of problems such as depression and anxiety is loneliness.

Experts also warn that loneliness can put a person at increased risk of cardiovascular or neurological problems.

Source: UCLA Loneliness Scale.

Many close friends and family members will also die over the years, causing them to lose touch. The younger members of the family usually grow up and start their lives away from their parents.

However, isolation among Generation Z is a relatively new concept. Generally accepted are people born between 1997 and 2012 – this includes Americans between the ages of nine and 25.

One would expect that people falling in these age groups would lead hectic, busy and social lives, but this turned out not to be the case.

The statement cited a Harvard report saying Gen Z adults are the “loneliest generation” in America right now.

They point to increased use of social media and less face-to-face interaction with their peers as reasons for the strange difference.

“Given the prevalence of social disengagement in the US, the impact on public health is quite significant,” Sene said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also likely played a role. School closures and many recreational activities have been blamed for the rise in mental health problems among America’s youngest in recent years.

The statement said that loneliness and social isolation are the two main causes of depression.

Now that the issue has been raised by experts, Sene says it’s time to come up with solutions:

“There is an urgent need to develop, implement and evaluate programs and strategies to reduce the negative effects of social isolation and loneliness on cardiovascular and brain health, especially for at-risk groups.

“Physicians should ask patients about the frequency of their social activity and whether they are satisfied with their level of interaction with friends and family.

“Then they must be prepared to refer socially isolated or lonely people, especially those with a history of heart disease or stroke, to community resources to help them connect with others.”