Loneliness is unpleasant by any standard. But according to a recent study at the University of Chicago, it also appears to be a risk factor for high blood pressure.
Researchers examined 229 people, ages 50 to 68, who were randomly chosen from a wide range of backgrounds. The team used a series of questions to determine whether participants fit a profile for loneliness (after accounting for conditions like depression and stress). Those who fit the profile showed as much as a 30-point higher systolic blood-pressure reading. This is comparable to the magnitude of reduction in pressure that can often be achieved through a healthy diet and exercise routine.
The researchers advise that people stay socially connected with friends. Doing so may be as good for a person's blood pressure as a daily workout. Walking with a companion could net even greater benefits.