Chronic Loneliness Linked to Increased Risk of Stroke

Individuals with consistently high loneliness patterns over time had significantly higher incident stroke risk
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Medically Reviewed By:
Mark Arredondo, M.D.

FRIDAY, June 28, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Chronic loneliness is associated with increased risk of stroke after adjustment for depressive symptoms and social isolation, according to a study published online June 24 in eClinicalMedicine.

Yenee Soh, Sc.D., from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study using data from the Health and Retirement Study during 2006 to 2018. Data were included for U.S. adults aged 50 years or older who were stroke-free at baseline. Loneliness scores were constructed (range, 3 to 9), and dichotomized measures (high versus low using >6 cutoff) and loneliness patterns across time points were assessed. Associations of baseline loneliness with incident stroke over a 10- to 12-year period was estimated among 12,161 individuals, and the association between loneliness change patterns and incident stroke was examined among 8,936 individuals over a subsequent six- to eight-year period.

The researchers found that there were associations for higher loneliness scores at baseline with incident stroke for continuous and dichotomized loneliness measures (hazard ratios, 1.05 and 1.25, respectively); after adjustment for social isolation but not depressive symptoms, these associations persisted. After adjustment for depressive symptoms and social isolation, only individuals with a consistently high (versus consistently low) loneliness pattern over time had significantly higher incident stroke risk (hazard ratio, 1.56).

"Loneliness can result in a higher risk for incident stroke and those experiencing chronic loneliness may be particularly at risk," the authors write. "Addressing loneliness may have an important role in the prevention of incident stroke."

Abstract/Full Text

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