Living alone spells higher mortality risk for heart patients

Washington: Living alone could hasten one`s death, especially among those who have suffered heart attack and stroke, says a new study.

Brigham and Women`s Hospital (BWH) researchers analysed data from 44,573 participants in the international Reduction of Atherothrombosis for Continued Health (REACH) Registry.

Participants at risk for or with atherosclerosis (hardening of blood vessels) were followed for up to four years for cardiovascular events.

Of the 44,573 participants, 19 percent (8,594) lived alone. The researchers found that those with atherosclerosis who lived alone had a higher rate of death over four years compared to those who did not live alone - 14.1 percent vs. 11.1 percent, respectively, the journal Archives of Internal Medicine reports.

Death specifically caused by cardiovascular problems was also higher among those living alone, 8.6 percent vs. 6.8 percent, respectively, according to a Brigham statement.

Moreover, a person`s age influenced mortality risk among those living alone. When looking at participants 45 to 80 years old, those living alone had higher mortality and risk of cardiovascular death compared to those who did not live alone. However, after age 80, living arrangement did not appear to play a role in mortality risk.

"Living alone may be a marker of a stressful situation, such as social isolation due to work or personal reasons, which can influence biological effects on the cardiovascular system," said Jacob Udell, cardiologist at Brigham and lead study investigator.

"Also, patients who live alone may delay seeking medical attention for concerning symptoms, which can increase their risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke," added Udell.


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