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Living Alone Raises Risk of Heart Attack

Study: Optimists Live Longer

Living alone can be deadly, a new study shows.

People who live by themselves are at twice the risk of serious heart problems compared to those who have a partner.

Researchers studied records of 138,000 adults aged 30 to 69 in Denmark. Of the group, 646 suffered a heart attack or sudden cardiac death between 2000 and 2002. Several factors were linked to these risk, including lack of education and living on a pension.

But age and living alone were the two strongest predictors.

Men over 50 who lived alone and women over 60 living alone were at twice the risk of the conditions than the rest of the study group.

The lowest risk, on the other hand, was with people who had a partner, were highly educated, and had jobs. The researchers point out that living alone can contribute to lifestyles that lead to heart problems, including smoking, obesity and fewer doctor visits.

The results, announced today, are detailed in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

"Risk groups identified by use of information on their age and family structure may be targets for future more focused and cost effective preventive strategies," the researchers write.

The study supports similar work by other groups.

Research at the University of Chicago earlier this year found that men and women 50 to 68 years old who scored highest on measures of loneliness also had higher blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease.

Other research has shown that losing a loved one raises the risk of heart attack-like symptoms. Even marital spats have been linked to hardening of the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart.

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Robert Roy Britt
Rob was a writer and editor at starting in 1999. He served as managing editor of Live Science at its launch in 2004. He is now Chief Content Officer overseeing media properties for the sites’ parent company, Purch. Prior to joining the company, Rob was an editor at The Star-Ledger in New Jersey, and in 1998 he was founder and editor of the science news website ExploreZone. He has a journalism degree from Humboldt State University in California.