Poor social health a predictor for cardiovascular disease
A recent study using data from the School’s ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) trial, and the associated ALSOP* sub-study, has found that among healthy older adults, social isolation and low social support are strong predictors of overall cardiovascular risk.
The team of researchers, led by Dr Rosanne Freak-Poli, observed that healthy older adults reporting social isolation were 66 per cent more likely to experience a cardiovascular (CVD) event and those with low social support were at twice the risk, compared to those reporting positive social health, providing insights that may assist with CVD prevention strategies.
The ASPREE study incorporates data from 11,498 relatively healthy Australian men and women over the age of 70 across an average of 4.5 years.
Social isolation was defined as engaging in community activities less than once per month and having contact with four or fewer relatives and close friends a month. Social support was defined as having four or more relatives or close friends with whom private matters could be discussed, or be called upon for help. Loneliness was defined as feeling lonely three or more days per week.
These definitions could be considered as a starting point to defining cut-offs among healthy older adults to prevent CVD, much like the unhealthy systolic blood pressure cut-off of more than 120 mm/Hg.