Heart Disease, Social Support and a 21st Century Proposition

Most heart diseases are chronic in the sense that most heart pathologies can only be managed, they cannot be cured.  With proper management and adherence to therapy, one can live a normal life depending of course on the heart disease in question and on its severity.  Heart disease is one of the major killers of the 21st century.  As per American Heart Association, heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. It further explains that cardiovascular diseases claim more lives yearly than all forms of cancers combined.

These staggering statistics are made worse by the fact that every 34 seconds in the United States someone suffers a heart attack and every 60 seconds someone in the United States dies from a heart-related disease. There are many factors that predispose one to heart disease; some of them can be changed (modifiable) while some cannot be changed (non-modifiable). The non-modifiable risk factors include; race, familiar tendencies, and age. For the modifiable risk factors, we have alcohol, smoking, and obesity. These risk factors also worsen the prognosis of anyone who is suffering from a heart disease.

Heart Disease and Social Support

There have been a lot of studies to evaluate the role of social support in heart disease.  There are many research questions that come up whenever the issue of social support and heart disease are mentioned. Some of them include:

Does the lack of social support predispose one to heart disease?

Does poor social support worsen one’s prognosis after suffering a heart attack?

Does social support improve the prognosis of a heart disease patient?

These questions are vital and they must be looked at in much detail to establish the exact role of social support for heart disease sufferers.

Some studies have suggested that lack of social support does not directly worsen the prognosis of a heart disease sufferer, but it can increase their predisposition to the factors that may worsen their condition. For example, heart disease patients who lack good social support are more likely to be out of a job, suffer depression, abuse alcohol, and tobacco. They are also more likely not to be compliant with their medications. All this will no doubt worsen their prognosis. It is this indirect effect that makes it possible to conclude that even though the lack of social support may not directly worsen the prognosis of a heart disease sufferer, it can help in ensuring that the sufferers can cope better with the disease.  There are also testimonies of people whose quality of life has improved through support from family and friends even after undergoing heart surgery, for example.  Some were also able to fight off depression as a result. All that put together produces a multiplier effect which may not have been the case without social support. So even though the lack of social support cannot be directly implicated as a predisposition to worsening symptoms, social support does help improve the quality of life of heart disease sufferers.

A 21st Century Proposition

Social support comes in different forms; it could be from family or from friends but nothing beats getting your support from fellow heart disease sufferers. Just like the role that support groups have had in depression and alcohol abuse, social support groups will no doubt help anyone suffering from heart disease. The million dollar question is how do you get a heart disease forum? Do you go out with a printed shirt that reads as shown below:

heart-disease-t-shirt

That will be ridiculous, to say the least. Some suggested ways of social support may involve one starting it through their Physician. Their Physician can speak to other patients about it and the ones interested can opt in. Another way is by forming social media groups, heart disease forums, and chat platforms. This can be done online, through social media chatting apps or even through the aid of a heart disease blog.

These are some of the ways we can use to get social support in the 21st century and we can use any of these media as a way of getting support for either ourselves or our loved ones.

Sunil is a social entrepreneur working on projects that enhance the quality of life for people. He is passionate about using tech to help the human cause.