Research has found that loneliness can increase a person’s blood pressure, London’s Daily Telegraph reported.

The link is independent of age, smoking and obesity, according to the study, which is published in the medical journal "Psychology and Aging."

"Loneliness behaved as though it is a unique health-risk factor in its own right," said Dr. Louise Hawkley, one of the study’s researchers.

High blood pressure can raise a person’s risk for heart attack and stroke, and it can also impair kidney function.

Researchers studied the blood pressure of 229 people between the ages of 50 and 68. Within two years they noticed the spike in the blood pressure readings of people who perceived themselves as lonely, which continued for the next four years.

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