There are four many types of cardiovascular disease, ranging from coronary heart disease to strokes. Heart diseases are one of the main causes of death in the UK. Here’s one factor connected to eating that might increase the risk of this disease in older women.
When women age, their oestrogen levels decrease which can put them at a greater risk of heart disease compared to men.
This is because oestrogen regulates your vascular function.
Heart disease research usually focuses solely on the contents of your diet because unhealthy eating can be a risk factor, according to the NHS.
However, this new study has focused on the way we eat instead and found that eating alone may contribute to an increased risk of heart disease in older women.
The study published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society, stresses that the importance of having an eating companion has been previously largely overlooked.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, more people than ever are eating alone.
Other reasons for solo dining are a higher number of single-person households and mobile platforms for food delivery, the study explains.
When eating alone, people tend to eat faster which can lead to an increase in body mass index, waist circumference, blood pressure and blood lipid levels.
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All of this can increase the risk of heart disease as well as metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a medical term describing a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, the NHS reports.
Another risk factor of eating alone is its effect on mental health, possibly leading to depression.
And depression is also linked with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
The study looked at almost 600 menopausal women older than 65 years.
The researchers compared health behaviours and nutritional status between older women eating alone and those eating with others.
Then, they investigated the relationship between solo eating and the prevalence of heart disease and its risk factors in older women.
The findings showed that older women who ate alone had lower intakes of energy, carbohydrates, dietary fibre, sodium and potassium, compared to those who ate with companions.
They found that solo eaters were also 2.58 times more likely to have angina, a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart and a symptom of coronary artery disease.
The results of the study highlight the importance of nutrition education and heart disease screening for older women who mainly eat alone.
“This study shows that older women who eat alone are more likely to have symptomatic heart disease,” said Doctor Stephanie Faubion, medical director of The North American Menopause Society.
She added: “Given that women live longer than men, finding ways for older women who are socially isolated to engage and create meaningful social ties may not only improve their nutrition but also their overall health.”