Statistics about singledom and early death are not new- in fact, one of the oldest (and most misogynistic) jokes around is about how married men don’t live longer, but it feels that way.
In fact, as much as we as a society increasingly value and drift toward being isolated, it turns out it really isn’t all that good for our physical or mental well-being. A new study published in the medical journal Archives of Internal Medicine examined outcomes of living alone and isolation along with heart disease, and found late in life singledom can impact lifespan when both factors are present.
The study included 44,000 people with heart disease who lived alone and lived across several countries worldwide. All were aged 45 or older, and the study tracked the participants for more than four years.
In the course of the study, 7.5% of participants younger than 65 who lived alone died, versus 5.5% of those who did not live alone.
According to Reuters, the spread was steady in people aged 66 to 80, but “remained statistically reliable even after accounting for age, sex, employment, ethnicity and country. After the age of 80, however, living situation did not affect death rates.
Dr. Deepak Bhatt of Harvard Medical School was lead researcher on the study, and Bhatt posits some possible causes for the data gleaned:
“Patients living alone may have more difficulty getting their medications refilled and taking them regularly… They also don’t have anyone at home to call the doctor’s office or emergency room if they are not looking well.”
Bhatt suggested cardiologists consider living alone a “red flag” after a certain age and verify patients have a way to get necessary medication.