Teenagers who are unpopular at school face a greater risk of heart attacks

Teens who are unpopular at school are at risk of a heart attack or stroke in later life, researchers have found.

Social relationships and emotional trauma in adolescence have a lasting impact on health, the study suggests.

A team of researchers from Stockholm University found children who were marginalised at the age of 13 were 33 per cent more likely to suffer cardiovascular disease in adulthood.

Social relationships and emotional trauma in adolescence have a lasting impact on health, the study suggests

Social relationships and emotional trauma in adolescence have a lasting impact on health, the study suggests


Figures suggest there are 200,000 hospital visits because of heart attacks in the UK each year, while there are around 800,000 annually in the US.

A heart attack, known medically as a myocardial infarction, occurs when the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked. 

Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, and feeling weak and anxious.

Heart attacks are commonly caused by coronary heart disease, which can be brought on by smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Treatment is usually medication to dissolve blots clots or surgery to remove the blockage.

Reduce your risk by not smoking, exercising regularly and drinking in moderation.

Heart attacks are different to a cardiac arrest, which occurs when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body, usually due to a problem with electrical signals in the organ. 

Source: NHS Choices

The Swedish scientists tracked 14,000 people born in 1953.

At the age of 13 each participant’s popularity was gauged by asking every child in each class who they preferred to work with.

The participants were then tracked until 2016.

The researchers, writing in the BMJ Open medical journal, found those people who had been left out as children were a third less likely than popular kids to have experienced heart or circulatory problems later in life.

The researchers said: ‘Peer relations play an important role for children’s emotional and social development and may have considerable long-term implications on their health.

‘There is convincing evidence from neuroscience regarding how social relationships modulate neuroendocrine responses that subsequently affect the circulatory system, increasing the risk for stroke and cardiovascular diseases.’ 

A separate study by King’s College London yesterday revealed lonely people are more likely to develop type two diabetes later in life.

Together, the two papers highlight the impact on emotional and mental health on physical disease.

The British researchers, writing in the journal Diabetologia tracked 4,000 people, all aged over 50, for 12 years.

They found that those who reported being lonely at the start of the study were significantly more likely to develop diabetes than those who were not.

Lead author Dr Ruth Hackett said: ‘I came up with the idea for the research during UK lockdown for the Covid-19 pandemic as I became increasingly aware and interested in how loneliness may affect our health, especially as it is likely that many more people were experiencing this difficult emotion during this period.’ 

‘If the feeling of loneliness becomes chronic then every day you’re stimulating the stress system and over time that leads to wear and tear on your body and those negative changes in stress-related biology may be linked to type 2 diabetes development.’

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