Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Social connections: Could heartwarming be heart-saving?

02.05.2005


Being social has its rewards.



Men who are socially isolated have elevated levels of a blood marker for inflammation that’s linked to cardiovascular disease, according to data from the Framingham Heart Study presented today at the American Heart Association’s 45th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.

"Our analyses suggest that it may be good for the heart to be connected," said Eric B. Loucks, Ph.D., an instructor in the department of society, human development and health at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. "In general, it seems to be good for health to have close friends and family, to be connected to community groups or religious organizations, and to have a close partner."


Loucks’ team studied 3,267 Framingham Heart Study participants, with an average age of 62 years, who underwent physical exams between 1998 and 2001. The researchers measured blood concentrations of four inflammatory markers including interleukin-6 (IL-6).

The researchers asked the participants five questions about their social network:

  • marital status;
  • number of relatives in whom they can confide private matters;
  • number of close friends in whom they can confide private matters;
    involvement in religious meetings or services; and
  • participation in groups such as senior centers.

They then assigned a social network index of 1 to 4, based on participants’ response, with the lowest number corresponding to social isolation and the highest to high social connection.

After considering major known risk factors for heart disease, men with the lowest level of social involvement had the highest levels of IL-6, the study showed. Specifically, the average concentration of IL-6 in the blood of men with a social network index of 1 was 3.85 picograms per milliliter, compared with 3.52 picograms per milliliter in men with a social network index of 4. "This was a statistically significant difference," Loucks said.

No such link was found in women, however. Researchers noted that the study counted the number of relationships, but did not assess the quality of relationships. For example, were these relationships supportive for the study participants, or did they often cause stress and conflict? Future studies on the quality of relationships will provide knowledge on the effect of social relationships on inflammatory markers in women.

Also, researchers found no association between social involvement and three other markers of inflammation in the blood: C-reactive protein, soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1. "These observations need further study," Loucks said.

Studies indicate that inflammation plays a role in causing atherosclerosis. "It seems to allow white blood cells to tether to and become engulfed in the side of the blood vessel wall," Loucks said. "This allows lipids to be deposited in the blood vessel wall more easily, causing atherosclerosis."

Researchers say IL-6 -- and by extension, inflammation -- may be elevated for two reasons in men who are socially isolated. First, social isolation may influence health behaviors such as smoking and physical activity, which in turn affect IL-6 levels. Second, socially isolated people are often depressed and under more stress than their more outgoing counterparts (studies show that even acute stress can increase levels of IL-6).

Carole Bullock | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.heart.org

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>