According to a new study, older women have a higher risk of developing and worsening heart disease because of social isolation and loneliness caused by the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This and more was shared as part of February’s American heart month timely data.
More precisely, the risk of heart disease for postmenopausal women increases by up to 27 percent if they are in social isolation and also experience loneliness as per a new study published earlier this week in the American Medical Association’s JAMA Network Open.
The article says that “Social isolation and loneliness were associated with increased risk of incident [cardiovascular disease] among older women in the U.S., suggesting that interventions to reduce social isolation and loneliness in this population are warranted.”
This study was conducted between March 2011 and March 2019 and it’s more relevant than ever because of the pandemic.
The study featured no less than 57,825 women from the United States with ages between 65 and 99 from the Women’s Health Initiative Study II.
They reported no history of heart attacks, coronary heart disease or stroke before the study was conducted so that any significant changes in their heart health could be easily noticed and monitored.
Social isolation and loneliness are not exactly the same thing but they are still related concepts.
One can be in social isolation and not experience loneliness and the other way around can also be the case.
Of course, the COVID-19 crisis has led to strategies meant to control the spread of the virus that include social distancing, quarantining or even just limiting contact with other people outside the household.
While all of these measures are absolutely necessary, that is not to say that they do not have a significant impact on women’s cardiovascular health and risk of developing heart problems.
Keep in mind that heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States for both men and women, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which cited from the Interactive Summary Health Statistics for Adults: National Health Interview Survey.
CDC data also revealed back in 2020 that 4.6% of adult aged people were diagnosed with coronary heart disease at some point in their lives.
Furthermore, CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics shared in 2017 that 1 in 5 female deaths in the United States is caused by heart disease. That being said, the American Heart Association suggests that the more accurate figure is probably closer to 1 in 3.
Someone in the United States dies every 36 seconds from heart disease as per CDC statistics.
Over 800,000 people experience a heart attack every year in the United States, and around 20 percent of those are “silent” which means the individual is not aware of it even though the damage still takes place.
The CDC also reports that around 18.2 million people over the age of 20 have coronary artery disease.