Loneliness is bad for mental health and affected persons often find it difficult to break the cycle of sadness and social isolation. However, we don't often consider loneliness when dealing with major heart diseases such as heart failure, a condition in which the pumping action of the heart is not as effective as it should be. Persons with heart failure have symptoms such as shortness of breath, particularly with activity or when lying flat. They can also experience leg swelling and weight gain from retained fluids.
The research reported here suggests it is time to think differently about loneliness and the heart. The researchers found that a lot of people with heart failure do not follow the advice given by their doctors. Of note, patients who were lonely were worse in all areas because loneliness had a negative effect on their adherence to treatment. This shows the importance of a holistic approach to treatment. Comprehensive care should include management of loneliness, by providing emotional support and practical assistance. Are there lonely people in your life, or are you the lonely one? If so, take time to reach out or seek help. You may just save someone's heart.