People with heart disease who live alone tend to die sooner than those sharing their home with others, according to an international study that looked at more than 44,000 people.
Previous studies have linked social isolation to everything from heart attacks to weakened immune systems, but the current study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, focused specifically on people with known heart disease or at very high risk for it.
Reasons for the difference remain unclear, but lead researcher Deepak Bhatt said access to regular medical care might be involved.
"Patients living alone may have more difficulty getting their medications refilled and taking them regularly," Bhatt, at Harvard Medical School in Boston, told Reuters Health.
"They also don't have anyone at home to call the doctor's office or emergency room if they are not looking well."
The study included more than 44,000 people, all aged 45 or older, from multiple countries across the globe.
Over the four years the study lasted, 7.7 percent of participants younger than 65 who lived on their own died, compared to just 5.7 percent of those who didn't live alone.
The gap was smaller for people aged 66 to 80, but it remained statistically reliable even after accounting for age, sex, employment, ethnicity and country. The living situation of those over 80, however, wasn't tied to death rates.
Bhatt and his team speculated that in people under 80, living alone could signal psychological and social problems like job strain or loneliness. In contrast, very old people who live on their own may be healthier and more independent than those who don't.
Whatever the explanation, Bhatt said cardiologists should routinely ask their patients if they live alone.
"If the answer is yes, that might be a red flag and they should make sure the patients have a way to get their medicine regularly," he said.
Meanwhile, patients who live alone should think twice before ignoring changes that might be a sign of health problems.
"May times people just adapt to their circumstances. Perhaps just lower your threshold a little bit and realize it's better to call (the doctor) than not to call."
But that might not be the whole story, he acknowledged.
"Other mechanisms by which living alone could increase cardiac risk have to do with possible social isolation and loneliness, and these are more challenging to fix," he said.
Indeed, another report published along with Bhatt's shows that older people who felt lonely had more difficulty performing basic tasks of daily living and died younger than those who didn't feel alone. SOURCE: http://bit.ly/KgcRnj
The man in the western state of Utah became ill after helping to take care of his 73-year-old father, who was hospitalized in June with Zika after being infected during a trip to his native Mexico.
Children in Kenya make up 10 percent of all tuberculosis cases
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said 12 cases of Zika had been detected across the Philippines this month, including a 22-year-old woman from the central island of Cebu who is 19 weeks' pregnant with her first child.
When Rufino Borrego was 13, he was diagnosed by a Lisbon hospital as having incurable muscular dystrophy, the Jornal de Noticias reported.
Facebook CEO, wife to begin $3 billion initiative by building new research center
In a joint statement, the Ministry of Health and the National Environment Agency confirmed 16 new cases, four of which were not linked to existing cluster areas.
A report by the The Climate Institute suggests that coffee could become extinct by 2080 if serious changes aren't made
The US and China - together responsible for 40% of the world's carbon emissions - have now both ratified the Paris global climate agreement.
Government says antibacterial soaps no better than plain soaps, could affect human health
Indonesia joins countries issuing travel advisory for Singapore, where number of viral infection cases have risen to 82
When dealing with ADHD, learning disorders and autism, how many of us focus on the connection between our gut flora, what we eat, and our mental state?
In an interview Hollywood actor Jean Claude Van Damme has stated that he favoured Arabic food and that the diet followed by the Prophet Muhammad was one that was best for the human body
El Nino has devastated Mozambique's Gorongosa park with political tensions threatening the park
Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which a therapist puts special cups on skin for a few minutes to create suction, the therapy itself dates back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad.
The Earth has hit a record high with an overall globel temperature the highest ever on record
The National Institute of Health may fund research into mixed embryos to better understand human diseases and develop therapies to treat them.