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Loneliness Linked to High Blood Pressure in Elderly

Increased risk of death from stroke and heart disease could be byproduct of lonely lifestyle

WEDNESDAY, May 31 (HealthDay News) -- High systolic blood pressure is associated with loneliness in elderly individuals, according to a report in Psychology and Aging.

Louise C. Hawkley, Ph.D., and colleagues from the University of Chicago, examined cardiovascular and endocrine function in relation to psychosocial factors such as loneliness, depression, stress, hostility and social support in a population-based sample of 229 individuals aged 50 to 68 years.

The researchers found that loneliness was associated with increased systolic blood pressure, with blood-pressure readings as much as 30 points higher among those who reported being lonely compared with those who were not.

Loneliness was also associated with age-related increases in systolic blood pressure, with blood pressure differences between lonely and non-lonely people being the lowest at age 50, but increasing among the oldest subjects.

There was no association of loneliness with differences in autonomic and endocrine function, according to the study.

"Although the results are limited by the cross-sectional methods used, they are consistent with the hypothesis that cardiovascular disease contributes to increased morbidity and mortality among lonely individuals," Hawkley and colleagues conclude.

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