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Alzheimer's, Dementia & Mental Health

Living Alone Increases Risk of Mortality, Cardiovascular Death for Older Adults

Among patients older than 80 years, living alone was not associated with an increased risk of mortality

June 18, 2012 - Living alone was associated with an increased risk of death and cardiovascular death for middle-aged people and seniors up to 80 years old in an international study of stable outpatients at risk of or with arterial vascular disease (such as coronary disease or peripheral vascular disease).

Social isolation may be associated with poor health consequences, and the risk associated with living alone is relevant because about 1 in 7 American adults lives alone, according to a report published Online First by Archives of Internal Medicine, a JAMA Network publication.

Note: In another study reported online by the publication, 18% of seniors studied also lived alone. It concluded that loneliness in people over 60 years of age can lead to functional decline and death.


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Read the latest news on Alzheimer's, Dementia & Mental Health


In explaining the background of this study, the authors note that epidemiological evidence has indicated that social isolation may alter neurohormonal-mediated emotional stress, influence health behavior and effect access to health care, which may result in association with cardiovascular risk.

Jacob A. Udell, M.D., M.P.H., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and colleagues examined whether living alone was associated with increased mortality and cardiovascular (CV) risk in the global REduction of Atherothrombosis for Continued Health (REACH) Registry.

Among 44,573 REACH participants, 8,594 (19 percent) lived alone.

Living alone was associated with higher four-year mortality (14.1 percent vs. 11.1 percent) and cardiovascular death (8.6 percent vs. 6.8 percent), according to the study results.

Based on age, living alone was associated with an increased risk of death among those patients 45 to 65 years old compared with those living with others (7.7 percent vs. 5.7 percent) , and among those participants 66 to 80 years old (13.2 percent vs. 12.3 percent).

However, among patients older than 80 years, living alone was not associated with an increased risk of mortality compared with those living with others (24.6 percent vs. 28.4 percent), the results indicate.

“In conclusion, living alone was independently associated with an increased risk of mortality and CV death in an international cohort of stable middle-aged outpatients with or at risk of atherothrombosis,” the authors conclude.

“Younger individuals who live alone may have a less favorable course than all but the most elderly individuals following development of CV disease, and this observation warrants confirmation in further studies.”

Notes: The REACH Registry is sponsored by sanofi-aventis, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and the Waksman Foundation (Tokyo,Japan). The REACH Registry is endorsed by the World Heart Federation. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.


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