Being lonely for long may raise stroke risk in elderly

by IANS |

New Delhi, June 25 (IANS) Older adults who remain lonely for a prolonged period may be at 56 per cent higher risk of suffering a stroke, according to a new study on Tuesday.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2023 declared loneliness as a pressing global health threat with a mortality effect equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

While previous research has linked loneliness to a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, the new study by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, US, examined the association between loneliness changes and stroke risk over time.

The “study suggests loneliness may play an important role in stroke incidence, which is already one of the leading causes of long-term disability and mortality worldwide,” said lead author Yenee Soh, research associate in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

The study, published in the eClinicalMedicine journal, was based on 8,936 participants aged 50 and above who never had a stroke.

The results showed that participants lonely for a short duration had a 25 per cent higher risk of stroke. However, those in the “consistently high” loneliness group had a 56 per cent higher risk of stroke than those in the “consistently low” group, even after accounting for a broad range of other known risk factors.

In the study, people experiencing loneliness at one time had higher stroke risk, and those who experienced remitting or recent onset loneliness did not show a clear pattern of increased risk of stroke.

It “suggests that loneliness’ impact on stroke risk occurs over the longer term,” the researchers said.

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