Owners of a Lonely Heart at Higher Risk for Hospitalization or Early Death
Patients diagnosed with heart failure who are also socially isolated and feeling lonely are more likely to be hospitalized or die, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA).
Heart failure affects more than 6 million adults in the United States each year. The study looked at 1,681 community patients with heart failure in southeastern Minnesota to measure their perceived isolation and determine any associations with poor health outcomes. They were average age 73, mostly white, 53 percent male. About 6 percent of them reported a high level of perceived social isolation.
The authors suggested, very simply, that assessing patients during clinical visits, with a brief survey screening tool, could help them avoid poor health outcomes. The authors suggested solutions to address perceived social isolation that include referral to psychological or social services; establishing connections with community resources; or referral to specialized services to meet patient needs."