Social Disconnectedness and Hypertension in Late Life

Courtney Boen, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Social isolation has been linked to a host of aging related diseases and old age mortality. However, it remains to be determined how specific characteristics of social connections may jointly or differentially affect risk of physiological dysregulation in older adults. Using data from over 2,000 respondents aged 57-85 from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project (2005-06), this study examines the relationships between systolic blood pressure and two dimensions of social connections. The results show significant increments in risk of hypertension in association with objective and quantitative characteristics of social networks as measured by social disconnectedness but not subjective and qualitative aspects of social relations as measured by perceived isolation. There are also sex differences in these associations, with women being more affected by social disconnectedness and a lack of social participation than men.

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Presented in Poster Session 2