Social isolation increases the risk of hypertension in women

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A new study sheds light on the effects of social isolation on the health of men and women. The latter are particularly exposed to an increased risk of hypertension.

The latter are particularly exposed to an increased risk of hypertension.

In a new study, which appeared recently in the Journal of Hypertension, researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC, Canada) investigated the health effects of social isolation by gender.

Using data from a Canadian longitudinal study on aging, the researchers analyzed the social connections of some 28,238 adults between the ages of 45 and 85. They found that single women who participated in fewer than three social activities per month, or had a small social network, with fewer than 85 contacts, had a higher risk of hypertension than others.

Mean systolic pressure was highest among widowed, single, and socially inactive women, and the largest difference in blood pressure was found between married and widowed women. Remember that blood pressure is made up of two elements: systolic pressure, which is recorded when blood pressure is at its maximum during heart contraction, and diastolic pressure, which is measured when blood pressure is at its minimum, between two heartbeats. In men, on the other hand, the researchers found that those who were single, shared a house with others, or had larger social networks had the highest blood pressure, while those who lived alone or with little social contact had low blood pressure.

"Our research indicates that women, in particular, are more likely to be hypertensive when they are isolated in middle or old age," said Annalijn Conklin, from the UBC School of Pharmaceutical Sciences and lead author of the study. "In women, the increase in blood pressure associated with a lack of social connections was similar to that seen with the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, increased pollution, high-sodium diets or weight gain," said the researcher, and He added that "this is a significant risk factor for heart disease or stroke specific to women."

"At a time when Covid-19 forces us to limit our social interactions, it is important for those who work in the health field to encourage older women, in particular, to find new ways of being socially active", concluded the researcher .

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