Loneliness linked to higher blood pressure
CHICAGO (UPI) -- Elderly people who feel lonely are at far greater risk of also having high blood pressure -- a surprise finding in a study of Chicago-area residents.
The study of 229 people aged 50-68 by the University of Chicago and Northwestern University found those who reported being lonely had blood pressure readings up to 30 points higher than those who did not feel lonely, even when other factors were taken into account.
"I'm surprised by the magnitude of the relationship between loneliness and hypertension in this well-controlled cross-sectional study," said Richard Suzman of the National Institute on Aging, which helped fund the research.
"Older people's relationships are often disrupted by death, illness and geographic mobility," Suzman said.
The study says improving social connections may be as beneficial in lowering blood pressure as weight loss and regular exercise.
Louise Hawkley, co-author of the study published in the journal Psychology and Aging, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the next step is to try to understand how loneliness boosts blood pressure.
Copyright 2006 by United Press International