Study links loneliness and heart disease

19 April 2016        

Support in grief

There is a link between loneliness and heart disease, according to a new study from the Universities of York, Liverpool and Newcastle published in the journal Heart.

The research showed that loneliness and social isolation was associated with a 29% increased risk of coronary heart disease and a 32% increased risk of having a stroke.

Loneliness has previously been linked to higher blood pressure and depression, and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia but its potential effect on heart disease and stroke risk has remained unclear. Previous research we funded has also shown an association between social isolation and increased risk of dying.

Taking steps to reduce isolation

There are lots of small steps people can take to help them feel less lonely, from volunteering, to joining a book club or taking up a new hobby.

Read our heart matters magazine article about how to combat loneliness.

What we said 

Our Senior Cardiac Nurse Christopher Allen, said:

“Social isolation is a serious issue that affects many thousands of people across the UK. We know that loneliness, and having few social contacts, can lead to poor lifestyle habits such as smoking which can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

“Although this observational study suggests a physiological link between loneliness and heart health problems, this is not a clear link and much more research is needed understand to if there truly is a relationship between the two. Earlier BHF-funded research has shown an association between social isolation and increased risk of dying. And the BHF continues to fund research exploring how our mental health affects our risk of developing heart problems. 

“It’s important for anyone affected by loneliness to remember that they can reach out to their GP for help and advice and also take further steps to improve their wellbeing such as joining a local community groups or possibly volunteering in their free time.”

Becoming a volunteer

Volunteering can be a great way to combat loneliness and to learn more about what we do. It can also help with developing your skills, gaining qualifications and supporting a cause you care about. Whatever your reason for joining, you can expect to have lots of fun and meet some great people.

Sign up to become a volunteer