Patients hospitalised for heart problems may be at greater risk of dying within a year of discharge when they live alone or feel lonely, a Danish study suggests. Social isolation has long been linked to worse health outcomes and shortened life spans, particularly among older adults with complex chronic health problems like heart disease.
But it hasn’t been clear whether the connection between loneliness and longevity might vary based on the type of heart problems people have, researchers note in the journal Heart. For the current study, researchers analysed survey responses from 13,446 hospitalised patients with heart disease, rhythm disorders, heart failure or valve disease before they were sent home, then used registry data to follow each person’s fate for one year.
Overall, they found that women who had reported feeling lonely were almost three times as likely as those who hadn’t to die during the follow-up period, and lonely men were more than twice as likely to die. “A strong association between loneliness and poor patient-reported outcomes and 1-year mortality was found in both men and women across cardiac diagnoses,” Anne Vinggaard Christensen of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark and colleagues said.
“The results suggest that loneliness should be a priority for public health initiatives,” Vinggaard Christensen and colleagues said.