Social Isolation Tied to High Blood Pressure in Women

Women who are socially isolated have an increased risk for high blood pressure, researchers report. But men, not so much.

Scientists used data on 28,238 Canadian men and women aged 45 to 85 who are participating in a large continuing study on aging.

The researchers found that compared with married women, single women had a 28 percent higher risk of hypertension, divorced women a 21 percent higher risk, and widowed women a 33 percent higher risk.

Social connections were also significant. Compared with the one-quarter of women with the largest social networks — which ranged from 220 to 573 people — those in the lowest one-quarter, with fewer than 85 connections, were 15 percent more likely to have high blood pressure.

The associations were different, and generally weaker, in men. Men who lived alone had a lower risk of hypertension than men with partners, but the size of men’s social networks, or their participation in social activity, was not significantly associated with high blood pressure.

The study, in the Journal of Hypertension, controlled for many factors that affect blood pressure, including age, education, smoking, alcohol use and depression.

The senior author, Annalijn I. Conklin, an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia, said that the most important finding is that social ties seem to be more meaningful for women than for men. “Social ties matter for cardiovascular health,” she said, “and they matter more for women.”

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Alberta breaks single-day record for cases as Premier Jason Kenney enters isolation

FILE - This June 9, 2015 file photo shows then-Canadian Defence Minister Jason Kenney in Warsaw, Poland. He is now the premier of Alberta. Alberta is investing $1.1 billion in the disputed Keystone XL pipeline, a project that Kenney says is crucial for the province's economy. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)
FILE – This June 9, 2015 file photo shows then-Canadian Defence Minister Jason Kenney in Warsaw, Poland. He is now the premier of Alberta. Alberta is investing $1.1 billion in the disputed Keystone XL pipeline, a project that Kenney says is crucial for the province’s economy. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

For more on today’s top stories and the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country, please refer to our live updates below throughout the day, as well as our COVID-19 news hub.

Alberta premier isolating after cabinet minister tests positive

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is isolating after municipal affairs minister Tracy Allard tested positive for COVID-19. The premier is not known to have any COVID-19 symptoms at this point.

Transport minister Ric McIver and multiple MLAs are also considered close contacts to this case.

This comes as the province reports a significant increase in daily cases, hitting 406 on Wednesday, breaking the single-day record in Alberta. There are now 3,372 active cases in the province, with the majority of cases in the Edmonton zone.

Three more deaths were reported in the province, two in Edmonton and one in Calgary.

Ontario premier defends bill that would provide liability protection for long-term care homes

At a press conference on Wednesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford was pushed to answer questions about a new bill that was introduced Tuesday, which would provide liability protection to some workers, businesses and non-profits against COVID-19-related lawsuits.

When asked about long-term care homes, and families of residents in these facilities being able to hold these institutions accountable for their actions (particularly after the number of deaths due to COVID-19 infections), Ford reinforced that the bill would not prevent individuals from suing long-term care homes for “gross negligence.”

“This does not protect the long-term care homes, 100 per cent by any means,” the premier said, adding that he specifically asked about that fact yesterday.

A statement from Donna Duncan, CEO of the Ontario Long Term Care Association, released Tuesday, supports the proposed legislation.

“Long-term care homes care for more than 79,000 residents across Ontario and they deserve quality healthcare and safe accommodations,” the statement reads. “Liability protection is a necessary measure to stabilize and renew Ontario’s entire long-term care sector.”

“Without it, many insurance companies will cease coverage, as they have already begun to do, putting homes across the province at risk and jeopardizing their expansion and renewal.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath slammed the bill and its impact on families of seniors in long-term care, who are victims of poor care and management.

“Today, the Ford government tabled a bill obviously designed to shield itself and for-profit long-term care corporations from accountability,” Horwath’s statement reads. “More than 1,900 people have died in long-term care during this pandemic, shattering thousands of families.”

“Doug Ford didn’t protect them — but is now protecting the very companies that let them die in horrible conditions. I’m appalled at this move to deny families the justice, accountability

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