Nursing Care: Effects of Social Isolation and Loneliness on Health Service after a Cardiovascular Disease

Author(s): Rosie Felia

Social isolation, the relative absence of or infrequency of contact with different types of social relationships, and loneliness are associated with adverse health outcomes. Evidence is most consistent for a direct association between social isolation, loneliness, and coronary heart disease and stroke mortality. However, data on the association between social isolation and loneliness with heart failure, dementia, and cognitive impairment are sparse and less robust. Given our evidence, the first step to improve cardiac outcomes is acknowledging that social health is part of the decision-making process. Incorporating a formal assessment of social support into healthcare management plans will likely improve cardiac outcomes and survival. Further research is required to assess if support person/s need to engage in the risk reduction behaviours themselves for outpatient rehabilitation to be effective. Further synthesis of the impact of social isolation and loneliness on health service utilization and survival after a CVD event is required. Social isolation and loneliness are common and appear to be independent risk factors for worse cardiovascular and brain health; however, consistency of the associations varies by outcome. There is a need to develop, implement, and test interventions to improve cardiovascular and brain health for individuals who are socially isolated or lonely. The role of social isolation, loneliness, and other social determinants in shaping cardiovascular and brain health outcomes is well established. Social isolation is defined as the objective state of having few or infrequent social contacts. Loneliness is perceived isolation that is distressing for the individual. Although related, they are distinct constructs that operate through different pathways and have unique downstream effects on health.