Social isolation, C-reactive protein, and coronary heart disease mortality among community-dwelling adults
Department of Quantitative Health Sciences
Medical Subject Headings
Social Isolation; Coronary Disease; C-Reactive Protein
Biostatistics | Cardiovascular Diseases | Epidemiology | Health Services Research
Social isolation confers increased risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) events and mortality. In two recent studies, low levels of social integration among older adults were related to higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation, suggesting a possible biological link between social isolation and CHD. The current study examined relationships among social isolation, CRP, and 15-year CHD death in a community sample of US adults aged 40 years and older without a prior history of myocardial infarction. A nested case-cohort study was conducted from a parent cohort of community-dwelling adults from the southeastern New England region of the United States (N = 2321) who were interviewed in 1989 and 1990. CRP levels were measured from stored sera provided by the nested case-cohort (n = 370), which included all cases of CHD death observed through 2005 (n = 48), and a random sample of non-cases. We found that the most socially isolated individuals had two-and-a-half times the odds of elevated CRP levels compared to the most socially integrated. In separate logistic regression models, both social isolation and CRP predicted later CHD death. The most socially isolated continued to have more than twice the odds of CHD death compared to the most socially integrated in a model adjusting for CRP and more traditional CHD risk factors. The current findings support social isolation as an independent risk factor of both high levels of CRP and CHD death in middle-aged adults without a prior history of myocardial infarction. Prospective study of inflammatory pathways related to social isolation and mortality are needed to fully delineate whether and how CRP or other inflammatory markers contribute to mechanisms linking social isolation to CVD health.