Navigation Links
Feeling lonely adds to rate of blood pressure increase in people 50 years old and older

Chronic feelings of loneliness take a toll on blood pressure over time, causing a marked increase after four years, according to a new study at the University of Chicago.

A new study shows, for the first time, a direct relation between loneliness and larger increases in blood pressure four years latera link that is independent of age and other factors that could cause blood pressure to rise, including body-mass index, smoking, alcohol use and demographic differences such as race and income.

The researchers also looked at the possibility that depression and stress might account for the increase but found that those factors did not fully explain the increase in blood pressure among lonely people 50 years and older.

"Loneliness behaved as though it is a unique health-risk factor in its own right," wrote researcher Louise Hawkley in an article, "Loneliness Predicts Increased Blood Pressure," published in the current issue of the journal Psychology and Aging.

Hawkley, Senior Research Scientist with the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience, is part of a UChicago research team that has been doing pioneering work on the impact of loneliness on health and quality of life issues. It includes Ronald Thisted, Chairman of Health Studies; Christopher Masi, Assistant Professor in Medicine; and John Cacioppo, the Tiffany & Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor in Psychology.

High blood pressure, often called a silent threat as it has few symptoms, undermines health in many ways. It increases the risk for heart attack and stroke and impairs kidney function. A systolic blood pressure measurement greater than 140 mm, also called hypertension, is the most common primary diagnosis in the United States and is the primary or contributing cause of about 18 percent of deaths in this country. It is estimated to cost $73.4 billion per year. However, any measurement greater than 115 mm increases risk for cardiovascular disease, according to a 2003 report by the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure.

Like blood pressure, loneliness is sometimes not easy to detect. People who have many friends and a social network can feel lonely if they find their relationships unsatisfying, Hawkley said. Conversely, people who live rather solitary lives may not be lonely if their few relationships are meaningful and rewarding.

The team based its research on a study of 229 people aged 50 to 68. The randomly chosen group included whites, African Americans and Latinos who were part of a long-term study on aging. Members of the group were asked a series of questions to determine if they perceived themselves as lonely. They were asked to rate connections with others through a series of topics, such as "I have a lot in common with the people around me," "My social relationships are superficial" and "I can find companionship when I want it."

During the five-year study, Hawkley found a clear connection between feelings of loneliness reported at the beginning of the study and rising blood pressure over that period. "The increase associated with loneliness wasn't observable until two years into the study, but then continued to increase until four years later," she said.

Even people with modest levels of loneliness were impacted. Among all the people in the sample, the loneliest people saw their blood pressure go up by 14.4 mm more than the blood pressure of their most socially contented counterparts over the four-year study period.

Lonely people's apprehension about social connections may underlie the blood pressure increase.

"Loneliness is characterized by a motivational impulse to connect with others but also a fear of negative evaluation, rejection and disappointment," Hawkley said. "We hypothesize that threats to one's sense of safety and security with others are toxic components of loneliness, and that hypervigilance for social threat may contribute to alterations in physiological functioning, including elevated blood pressure."


Contact: William Harms
University of Chicago

Related medicine news :

1. Forget the Old Stereotypes - New Survey Reveals that Baby Boomers Are Feeling More Young and Active than Ever!
2. Its More Than the Turkey Dinner That Will Leave You Feeling Bloated This Thanksgiving
3. Feeling Stressed?
4. Boomers: Feeling Young or Fooling Themselves?
5. Expressive writing appears to change thoughts and feelings about cancer
6. Voting for Clinton Evokes Deep-Seated Feelings of Insecurity
7. Study Reveals Women Feeling Growing Financial Pressures on Family Life
8. Expressing feelings after trauma not necessary, research shows
9. Feeling fat is worse than being it
10. Hurried doctor visits may leave patients feeling forgetful
11. Homosexuals negative feelings about sexuality predict poor mental and sexual health
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/26/2015)... ON (PRWEB) , ... November 26, 2015 , ... ... of a real-time eReferral system for diagnostic imaging in the Waterloo region. Using ... BMD and Nuclear Medicine tests directly from their electronic medical record (EMR) without ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... November 26, 2015 , ... WorldCare International, Inc., ... the 61st annual Employee Benefits Conference. The Employee Benefits Conference was hosted by ... through Wednesday, November 11th, 2015. The conference was held at the Hawaii Convention ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 25, 2015 , ... As part of a global movement ... volunteers together who want to combine talents and resources to help create sustainable ... process. The non-profit launched its first major fundraiser on November 6, 2015 at ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Dr. John Pierce, Medical ... more about hair loss treatment with the Capillus272™ Pro laser therapy cap. FDA cleared ... thicker and fuller hair, without the need for surgery, prescription pills, or topical foams. ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 25, 2015 , ... Lakeview Health, a Jacksonville-based drug and ... sobriety and show through pictures what a positive difference it makes. The social ... the hashtag #FacesOfGratitude on their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. Short stories ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... -- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Congress ... of Dimes cheered today,s signature into law of ... 2015 (S.799), which takes much-needed strides to ... drugs, such as opioids, and to improve their ... have worked together leading advocacy efforts for its ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Nov. 25, 2015  Henry Schein, Inc., the world,s ... office-based dental, medical and animal health practitioners, will unveil ... Henry Schein ConnectDental® Pavilion , which brings together ... open solutions designed to help any practice or laboratory ... for a schedule of experts appearing at the ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015 Allergan plc (NYSE: ... Rugen Therapeutics, a start-up  biotechnology company focused on ... disorders and funded by the F-Prime Biomedical Research ... into an exclusive collaboration to support the discovery ... Disorders (ASD) and Obsessive Compulsive disorders (OCD). ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: