Loneliness and Isolation Have Strong Link to Heart Disease and Stroke

June 4, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. loneliness / ˈloʊn li nɛss / (n.) – a feeling of sadness caused by being alone or away from other people
Example: People who work away from home for a long time are prone to feelings of loneliness.

2. correlation /ˌkɔr əˈleɪ ʃən / (n.) – a relationship between two things in which the change in one affects the other
Example: There is a correlation between the amount of stress and the strength of the immune system.

3. vulnerability / vʌl nər əˈbɪl ət i / (n.) – the state of being easily affected by something harmful, such as a disease
Example: Infants have high vulnerability to diseases.

4. take (something) into account / ˈteɪkˈɪn tu əˈkaʊnt / (idiom) – to consider something or someone, especially when making a decision
Example: Doctors take a patient’s medical history into account when prescribing medicine.

5. progression / prəˈgrɛʃ ən / (n.) – the constant advancement of something into a higher level
Example: Some diseases have a very quick rate of progression.


Read the text below.
A new study found that loneliness and isolation have strong correlation to heart disease and stroke.

According to a new research published in the journal Heart, people who are lonely and socially isolated are 29% more at risk of developing heart disease and 32% more at risk of having a stroke. This is similar to the risk brought about by anxiety or work-related stress, according to the research’s lead author, Nicole Valtorta.

The findings came from a review of 23 previously published studies on heart disease and stroke. Out of 180,000 adults studied in the research papers, 4,600 had heart attacks or weakened heart muscles, while 3,000 suffered strokes. It was found that loneliness and isolation increase vulnerability to the said diseases, but the researchers said that despite the strong link, there is no evidence saying that the former causes the latter.

Valtorta said that the findings suggest that there is benefit in taking isolation into account in the prevention of heart disease and stroke. The study supports findings of previous studies that also associated loneliness to having weaker immune system, as well as a higher risk and faster progression of illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease.

Psychology professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad, co-author of an editorial of the study, said that the current study highlights the importance of paying attention to people’s social interactions. She said that helping other people increase their interactions can be a challenge, but using social media may be of help. Above all, she emphasized the importance of regular person-to-person contact and building positive relationships in overcoming loneliness.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree that social media can help lonely and isolated people have more social interaction? Why or why not?
·         What are other possible negative effects of being isolated and lonely?

Discussion B

·         What would you advise people who are not getting enough social interaction?
·         What do you think is more important: having a huge circle of friends, or having a small group of very close friends?

June 4, 2016