An international study of 44,573 participants reports that social isolation among people with or at risk of heart disease is associated with a 14.1 percent risk of dying compared with 11.1 percent for those living with someone else, a significant difference in such a large study.

Among 66- to 80-year-olds who lived alone, 13.2 percent had a four-year mortality rate compared with 12.3 percent for cohabitors. The researchers attribute the decline in the health of those living solo to three factors:

  1. They're more likely to ignore health issues.
  2. They don't have adequate access to healthcare.
  3. Living alone may cause emotional stress, which can lead to cardiovascular risk.

Source: Archives of Internal Medicine, vol. 172, p. 1086; Prepared by the Editors of The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter: Health After 50

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 10 Jul 2013

Last Modified: 18 Sep 2015