Loneliness boosts blood pressure

Loneliness and lack of connection with others can increase the risk of high blood pressure in people age 50 and older, says a new study.

It included 229 people, aged 50-68, who answered questions about loneliness and their connections to others. Over four years, the loneliest participants' blood pressure increased 14.4 millimeters of mercury more than those who were most socially satisfied, United Press International reported.

The researchers also looked at the effects of depression and stress, but found they didn't fully explain the increase in blood pressure among the lonely people.

"Loneliness behaved as though it is a unique health-risk factor in its own right," study author Louise Hawkley, of the University of Chicago, and colleagues wrote in the study, published in the journal Psychology and Aging. - (HealthDay News, March 2010)

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