BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE -: Having a small social network and lack of social support have been associated with incident coronary heart disease; however, epidemiological evidence for incident stroke is limited. We assessed the longitudinal association of a small social network and lack of social support with risk of incident stroke and evaluated whether the association was partly mediated by vital exhaustion and inflammation. METHODS -: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study measured social network and social support in 13 686 men and women (mean, 57 years; 56% women; 24% black; 76% white) without a history of stroke. Social network was assessed by the 10-item Lubben Social Network Scale and social support by a 16-item Interpersonal Support Evaluation List-Short Form. RESULTS -: During a median follow-up of 18.6 years, 905 incident strokes occurred. Relative to participants with a large social network, those with a small social network had a higher risk of stroke (hazard ratio [95% confidence interval], 1.44 [1.02-2.04]) after adjustment for demographics, socioeconomic variables, marital status, behavioral risk factors, and major stroke risk factors. Vital exhaustion, but not inflammation, partly mediated the association between a small social network and incident stroke. Social support was unrelated to incident stroke. CONCLUSIONS -: In this sample of US community-dwelling men and women, having a small social network was associated with excess risk of incident stroke. As with other cardiovascular conditions, having a small social network may be associated with a modestly increased risk of incident stroke.
- social support