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Social Isolation Linked to Biological Age Gap and Higher Mortality Rate

March 20, 2024

Social isolation has emerged as a critical factor affecting health and longevity. A recent study conducted by Mayo Clinic sheds light on the connection between social isolation, biological age, and mortality risk.

The Impact of Social Connection

While we often focus on physical health indicators, such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels, this study emphasizes the role of social connection in overall well-being. Researchers found that socially isolated individuals are more likely to exhibit signs of accelerated biological aging beyond their chronological age.

Measuring Biological Age

The study utilized an AI-enabled electrocardiogram (AI-ECG) to estimate biological age. This innovative approach provides insights into the heart's aging process. A positive age gap indicates faster biological aging, while a negative value suggests slower aging.

Assessing Social Isolation

The Social Network Index was employed to gauge social isolation. Participants answered questions related to social interactions, including club membership, social activities, phone conversations, religious services attendance, and in-person gatherings. Higher Social Network Index scores correlated with smaller AI-ECG age gaps, indicating better social networks.

Mortality Risk

During the two-year follow-up period, approximately 5% of participants passed away. Those with low Social Network Index scores faced the highest mortality risk. Importantly, this association persisted across gender and age groups.

Addressing Social Determinants of Health

Healthcare professionals should recognize social isolation as a crucial determinant of health. By fostering social connections, we can potentially mitigate accelerated biological aging and reduce mortality risk.

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