Loners, listen closely. Hanging out with friends and family doesn’t just add to the quality of your life - it also adds to the quantity of your life. According to a huge study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, people who live alone are more likely to die from heart attacks and strokes. And here’s why: 

  • For starters, living alone may be a sign of relationship trouble, a weak support system, job stress, or depression - all of which have been linked to heart disease.

  • Also: People who don’t have someone to keep an eye on them tend to skip medications, avoid the doctor, and ignore the warning signs of a heart attack more often than those living with a partner or friend. 

  • But there’s also a psychological component. People who feel isolated or lonely are 45-percent more likely to suffer from a life-threatening illness. That’s because loneliness actually changes the way we respond to stress. Psychologists say that when lonely people get anxious, their bodies pump out a lot more cortisol, the stress hormone, than people who are more social. And that stress overload triggers inflammation, which damages blood vessels. 

Luckily, the fix is simple: 

Connect with other people. You can do it over the phone or in person. Say, by volunteering, or taking a class. But don’t rely on social media and text messages to keep you connected. A recent survey found that 2 out of 3 people feel that electronic communication is less meaningful than a phone call or face-to-face meeting. 

And the best part is, connecting with someone will help you start to feel better right way. A University of California study found that just telling another person that you’re lonely helps return your blood chemistry to normal.