Heart disease risks rise with social isolation and loneliness: By the numbers

February is American heart month – and with that in mind, here is news worth sharing.

The heart disease risk for postmenopausal women increases by up to 27% for those who experience both social isolation and loneliness, according to a prospective study published this week in the American Medical Association’s JAMA Network Open.

“Social isolation and loneliness were associated with increased risk of incident [cardiovascular disease] among older women in the US, suggesting that interventions to reduce social isolation and loneliness in this population are warranted, “the article noted.

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The study was done between March 2011 and March 2019.

It included 57,825 women in the US between the ages of 65-99 from the Women’s Health Initiative Study II.

February is heart health month;  it brings greater awareness to heart disease, the leading cause of death in the US But by living a healthy lifestyle and monitoring medical conditions, all of us can lower the risk for heart disease.  Among the keys to reducing risks: physical activity, a healthy diet, less stress, avoiding smoking and vaping, and getting good sleep.

February is heart health month; it brings greater awareness to heart disease, the leading cause of death in the US But by living a healthy lifestyle and monitoring medical conditions, all of us can lower the risk for heart disease. Among the keys to reducing risks: physical activity, a healthy diet, less stress, avoiding smoking and vaping, and getting good sleep.
(Credit: iStock)

The women reportedly had no history of myocardial infarction (heart attack), stroke, or coronary heart disease.

Loneliness and social isolation are distinct yet related concepts. A person may experience loneliness without social isolation, or vice versa.

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COVID mitigation strategies enacted to stem the pandemic include social distancing, limiting contacts, and quarantining.

Yet the long-term impact of those strategies on women’s cardiovascular health and risk profiles could be profound.

While Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, is National Wear Red Day – created to raise awareness about heart disease among women – check out this by-the-numbers snapshot below of overall cardiovascular health-related statistics in the United States.

Heart disease by the numbers

1) Heart disease is the number-one killer of men and women of most racial and ethnic groups in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which cited the Interactive Summary Health Statistics for Adults: National Health Interview Survey.

2) In 2020, 4.6% of adults were diagnosed with coronary heart disease at some point in their lives, according to CDC data.

3) One in every five female deaths in the US was caused by heart disease, according to figures reported by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics in 2017. That figure could actually be closer to 1 in 3, according to the American Heart Association.

4) Every 36 seconds, someone in the US dies from heart disease, according to statistics reported by the CDC.

5) Each year, 805,000 people in our country have a heart attack. About 20% of those heart attacks are “silent,” meaning the person is not aware of it, though the damage is done, according to the CDC.

To lower the risks of heart disease, all of us should eat well and include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in our diets.

To lower the risks of heart disease, all of us should eat well and include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in our diets.
(iStock)

6) About 18.2 million adults age 20 and older have coronary artery disease, the CDC reports among its heart disease facts.

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7) Estimates of the total costs due to cardiovascular disease are as high as $ 1.1 trillion – that’s trillion with a “t” – by 2035, according to Healthline.

The American Heart Association and the CDC have resources on their websites for those who would like to know more about American Heart Month and heart health.

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