Buddies Are Good for the Heart

Published Online: Thursday, April 1, 2004

Women are not the only ones who need the bonds of friendship. A study, reported recently in the European Heart Journal, found that men who have many friends they can rely on for support are much less apt to develop heart disease.

For the study, Swedish researchers followed 741 men 50 years of age for 15 years, documenting their levels of social support and who developed heart disease. The researchers learned that men who illustrated the highest levels of social integration?meaning having good friends they saw on a regular basis?were only 45% as likely as men with the least social integration to have heart disease. Also, for men who had a lot of friends to lean on when needed? called emotional attachment?the chances of developing heart disease were only 58% as high, compared with men with the least amount of emotional attachment.

Additionally, men with more or less social support demonstrated no differences in smoking, exercise habits, blood pressure, and other standard risk factors for heart disease.

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