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Emotional Response to Loneliness, Isolation Raises Heart Risk

Social distancing regulations enacted to protect against COVID prevented many individuals from having contact with family and friends, leaving many feeling lonely. Now there’s evidence that social isolation increased rates of heart disease in postmenopausal women nationwide. Researchers sent questionnaires to nearly 58,000 postmenopausal women who had participated in the Women’s Health Initiative Study. The questionnaires inquired about social isolation in 2011 and 2012 and again in 2014 and 2015. Then, the women were followed through 2019 or until they were diagnosed with cardiovascular disease (CVD). The researchers found that social isolation increased CVD risk by 8%; loneliness increased it by 5%, they reported online Feb. 2, 2022, in JAMA Network Open. When women reported experiencing significant levels of both conditions, CVD risks increased 13% and 27%, respectively.

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