Recent studies have suggested that people over 50 are under the risk of high blood pressure if they experience feelings of loneliness most of the time.
Feeling lonely has long been considered as a potential risk factor for hypertension, following closely behind more commonly publicized risk factors like obesity and sedentary lifestyles.
The study has revealed that loneliness has the potential to add 30 points to blood pressure readings for adults over the age of 50. The results of the study have been published in the latest issue of Psychology and Aging. The lead author of the study is University of Chicago scientist, Louise Hawkley.
The study was conducted on results of the interview of 229 people aged 50 to 68 years with standard questionnaires to rate each participant's perceived level of feeling lonely as well as other psychosocial and cardiovascular risk factors. It was found that about half of the study participants were considered to be moderately lonely and demonstrated higher blood pressure than those who felt less lonely.
In the 15 percent of participants who were considered to be severely lonely, blood pressure readings were 10 to 30 points higher than the non-lonely people of people, even after emotions like sadness, stress or hostility, were taken into account. In addition it was found that the effect of loneliness on high blood pressure only seemed to get stronger with age.
The research has only underscored the health advantages of friends and family. However according to Louise Hawkley lonely people often found it difficult to strengthen existing relationships as well as make new ones. She also brought into attention the fact that loneliness was sometimes unrelated to the number of people surrounding a person quoting the example of Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana.
Hawkley also pointed out that chronically lonely people tended to have conflicted emotions when it comes to reaching out and developing relationships such as a nagging lack of trust or feelings of hostility. This unfortunately only served to distance them further from potential partners and thereby good health.