ECG analysis to study social connections in older cardiac patients

Raquel Cervigón1, María Cardo2, Alejandra Chulián3, Francisco Castells4, Samuel Ruipérez-Campillo4
1UCLM, 2Hospital Virgen de la Luz, 3UDIMA, 4UPV


Loneliness in older adults is associated with functional decline, depression and even death. Given the prevalence of loneliness, the aim of this study was to examine the association between loneliness and cardiac biomarkers in older people. 207 people over 65 years old, attending cardiology consultation for atrial fibrillation and ischemic heart disease were included in the study, of whom, 41.06% aged 65-74 years, 45.90% aged 75-84 years and 13.04% aged 85-94 years, with balanced group differences. In all participants the ECG recording was recorded and evaluated heart rate, QRS complex and T wave morphology and QT intervals. Michael F. Steger's validated Meaning in Life Questionnaire and the DeJong Gierveld Loneliness Scale were also administered. The results showed that dichotomization showed a frequency of 76.8%, compared to 23.2% in people suffering from loneliness. Differences could be found between the perception of loneliness in men and women and in the perception of loneliness with respect to marital status or cohabitants (p<0.001). On the other hand, differences were found in the perception of loneliness in those for whom life had meaning and a goal (Pearson's Chi-square =130.01; p<0.001). At the same time, a greater presence of loneliness was observed in those whose heart rate was higher (p=0.018), with 67.77± 14.87 bpm in the group that did not manifest loneliness vs. 73.11±13.49 bpm, with respect to the group of people who felt lonely. With respect to ECG measurements, it was found that people with longer QT interval (398.97±43.41s vs. 385.13± 37.85s) and longer T wave (60.85±5.87s vs. 45.63±3.81s), perceived loneliness (p<0.05). Linear regression was also applied, in which the dependent variable loneliness, was related to two variables with high predictive power: the absence of meaning in life and the increase in heart rate, where the presence of meaning in life be a protective factor.