Living Alone Boosts Heart Risk

Solitary seniors, especially, had much greater odds of heart attack, study found

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THURSDAY, July 13, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Older people who live alone face double the risk of serious heart disease compared to people who live with a partner, Danish researchers report.

The study included more than 138,000 adults, aged 30 to 69. Between 2000 and 2002, 646 of the participants were diagnosed with severe angina or suffered a heart attack or sudden cardiac death, all of which fall under the blanket of acute coronary syndrome.

After analyzing the study data, researchers at Aarhus Sygehus University Hospital concluded that age and living alone were the two strongest predictive factors for acute coronary syndrome. A low level of education and living on a pension were also associated with increased risk.

The study found that women who were over age 60 and lived alone, and men over age 50 who lived alone, were twice as likely as other people in the study to have acute coronary syndrome.

Lone women over 60 comprised just over 5 percent of the study population, while lone men over 50 accounted for just under 8 percent. Yet, lone men over age 50 accounted for two-thirds of all deaths from acute coronary syndrome within 30 days of diagnosis, while lone women in the over-60 age group accounted for a third of all deaths.

Living with a partner, a high level of education, and having a job were associated with the lowest risk of acute coronary syndrome. Divorced women also had a lower risk.

Certain factors that are common among people who live alone may help explain their increased risk, the authors said. These factors include smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, and fewer visits to the doctor. People who live alone may also have less access to social support networks.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about acute coronary syndrome.

SOURCE: BMJ Specialist Journals, news release, July 13, 2006

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