Social networks may extend life for heart attack patients

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It turns out that, for heart attack patients, one is indeed the loneliest number. A new study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that, four years after suffering a heart attack, people who lived alone had a 35 percent higher risk of death compared to those who lived with others. In the study from the Yale School of Medicine, even when researchers accounted for confounding variables such as gender, race, and marital status, they still found that the increased risk of death persisted among heart attack patients who lived alone.

The study results emphasize the important role that social support plays in determining health outcomes. While it remains unclear precisely how social isolation leads to poorer prognosis in patients who have suffered a heart attack or other conditions, says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross regular visits from family, friends, and neighbors can ameliorate this effect to some degree.