Most of people do not like being alone for long periods of time as it invokes loneliness. It is extremely unpleasant feeling that can push individuals to depression. However, a new study from Newcastle University have concluded that those people who suffer from loneliness or social exclusion face a bigger risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD) and even experiencing a stroke.
Team of scientists employed methods of systematic review and meta-analysis, using data from previously published studies. They wanted to see if there is any relation between loneliness and certain health conditions, such as heart attack and stroke.
Researchers had to screen over 32,000 references to identify the 23 studies suitable for analysis in 16 different electronic databases. They only used data from those studies that were set in high-income countries and were long-term, and found a total of 4,628 incidents of CHD and more than 3,000 stroke events, involving 180,000 people aged 18 or above. This extensive work was enough to prove that there is, in fact, a clear correlation between loneliness and these conditions.
Study helped scientists to determine that feeling lonely and socially excluded can be associated with a 29 % increase in risk of developing coronary heart disease and a 32 % increase in risk of stroke. Having in mind modern developments in social interaction these results are alarming.
Professor Barbara Hanratty, supervisor of the study, said: “In recent years, we have seen rapid changes in the way we interact with friends and family, and the number of single person households is increasing amongst the older population in particular. It is vital that we acknowledge and address the role of social relationships in promoting health and wellbeing and preventing disease”.
This research once again proves that humans require constant social interaction in order to be content with their lives and to remain healthy. As Aristotle said, man is a social animal. Although, scientists do not say how to avoid potential risks, simple conversations and new friends are always a good start.