Loneliness linked to increased death risk for cardiac patients

Loneliness among cardiac patients is strongly associated with worse mortality rates and health outcomes, according to a study published in Heart

Researchers analyzed data from 13,443 patients discharged or transferred from Danish heart centers between April 2013 and April 2014. Patients with ischaemic heart disease, arrhythmia, heart failure or heart valve disease self-reported behavioral health data through a survey, while one-year cardiac events and all-cause mortality data came from national registers. Of those surveyed, 70 percent were male. The mean age of patients was 64.9 for men and 66.1 for women.

Researchers found loneliness predicted all-cause mortality among women and men, almost tripling women's risk and more than doubling men's risk. Living alone was associated with cardiac events only for men.

Women feeling lonely had about a 2.7 times higher chance of reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression and had significantly lower quality of life scores compared to women not feeling lonely. Men feeling lonely also reported significantly poorer quality of life scores and had almost triple the chance of reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression compared to men who weren't lonely.

Living alone was associated with a reduced risk of anxiety symptoms for both women and men. No significant link was found between loneliness and living alone.

Study authors suggest that loneliness should be a priority for public health initiatives and be included in cardiac patients' clinical risk assessment. However, the authors cautioned that the study does not allow for causal conclusions to be made.

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