Association Between Social Isolation and Left Ventricular Mass

Am J Med. 2011 Feb;124(2):164-70. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2010.09.011.


Background: Social isolation is associated with progression of cardiovascular disease, with the most socially isolated patients being at increased risk. Increased left ventricular mass is a predictor of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. It is not yet clear whether social isolation is a determinant of increased left ventricular mass.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study of Northern Manhattan Study participants who were free of clinical cardiovascular disease and had obtained transthoracic echocardiograms (n=2021) and a baseline questionnaire on social habits. Social isolation was defined as the lack of friendship networks (knowing fewer than 3 people well enough to visit within their homes). Echocardiographic left ventricular mass was indexed to height(2.7), analyzed as a continuous variable and compared between exposure groups.

Results: The prevalence of social isolation was 13.5%. The average left ventricular mass was significantly higher (50.2 gm/m(2.7)) in those who were, as compared with those who were not (47.6 gm/m(2.7)), socially isolated (P<.05). Higher prevalence of social isolation was found among those less educated, uninsured, or unemployed. There were no significant race-ethnic differences in the prevalence of social isolation. In multivariate analysis, there was a trend toward an association between social isolation and increased left ventricular mass in the total cohort (P=.09). Among Hispanics, social isolation was significantly associated with greater left ventricular mass. Hispanics who were socially isolated averaged 3.9 gm/ht(2.7) higher left ventricular mass compared with those not socially isolated (P=.002). This relationship was not present among non-Hispanic blacks or whites.

Conclusion: In this urban tri-ethnic cohort, social isolation was prevalent and associated with indices of low socioeconomic status. Hispanics who were socially isolated had a greater risk for increased left ventricular mass.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / psychology
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Echocardiography
  • Educational Status
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / psychology
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Family
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans / psychology*
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / diagnostic imaging
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / epidemiology*
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / ethnology
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / psychology*
  • Male
  • Medically Uninsured
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Research Design
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Class
  • Social Isolation*
  • Unemployment
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data