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Category: Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

New Study Suggests Loneliness is Bad for the Heart

Social isolation can be a killer, and not merely in the figurative sense. Loneliness may actually cause premature death by damaging the heart, according to a new study. The research suggested that feeling loneliness may double a person’s risk of dying of cardiovascular disease.

“Loneliness is more common today than ever before, and more people live alone,” Anne Vinggaard Christensen, study author and a PhD student at The Heart Centre at the Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, said in a statement. “Previous research has shown that loneliness and social isolation are linked with coronary heart disease and stroke, but this has not been investigated in patients with different types of cardiovascular disease.”

Not surprisingly, the study also showed a correlation between loneliness and increased symptoms of anxiety and depression. The team of Danish researchers presented their results at the European Society of Cardiology’s annual nursing conference over the weekend.

The study was based on data collected from 13,463 patients who suffered from either ischaemic heart disease, an abnormal heart rhythm, heart failure or heart valve disease. The results were based on a survey in which patients answered questions about their physical and mental health. They were also asked to describe their levels of social support. Levels of loneliness were evaluated with questions such as, “Do you have someone to talk to when you need it?” and “Do you feel alone sometimes even though you want to be with someone?”

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Coronary Artery Calcium as a Predictor of ASCVD Risk

Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) is the leading cause of death in the US, and prevention of ASCVD is a public health priority in order to minimize its impacts on morbidity and mortality. Global CVD risk assessment is an integrated approach to evaluate the total risk of developing CVD over a given period (usually 10 years) based on several risk factors, including age, male sex, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, smoking, family history, overweight and obesity. These risk factors have been incorporated in several algorithms for the primary prevention of CVD, including the Pooled Cohort Equation (PCE) developed by American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA). However, despite the development of several algorithms for risk assessments aimed to prevent CVD events, the overall disease burden has increased. CVD events can occur even in individuals that do not have risk factors, and the dependence of CVD risk assessment on the presence or absence of conventional risk factors may not allow for accurate risk prediction, given the fact that CVD is multi-factorial and progresses in a continuum.

As a result, novel risk assessment methods, including coronary artery calcium (CAC) score, may be necessary to improve ASCVD risk prediction and to better guide treatment options. The utility of the CAC score in preventing CVD risk in asymptomatic individuals has been demonstrated in several results from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), a study designed to evaluate the characteristics of subclinical atherosclerosis and risk factors for ASCVD progression. However, most of the outcomes of these studies have evaluated coronary heart disease (CHD) with short to intermediate follow-ups.

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