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Can Twitter Cause Heart Disease? Negative Tweets In US May Predict Psychological Health

BY Staff Reporter | Jan 22, 2015 02:08 PM EST

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Twitter can be used for more than letting your friends/followers know that you’re having a bad day.

A new research reportedly suggests that Twitter can predict rates of heart disease, according to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.

Negative tweets that use words like “hate” or expletives, are reportedly associated with a higher heart disease risk, according to the NY Daily News. Tweets about being bored or not having a reason to get out of bed in the morning also were reportedly linked to high risk of heart disease.

Although these negative tweets aren’t about the likelihood an individual Twitter user will get heart disease, the surrounding community may reportedly be at risk.

“The people tweeting are not the people dying. However, tweets of younger adults may disclose characteristics of their community, reflecting a shared economic, physical, and psychological environment,” wrote the study’s authors.

For the study, researchers reportedly studied 140 million random tweets from 2009 and 2010 and learned that what people said on the social media site correlated with heart disease mortality rates where those tweets originated, according to ABC News. The recent study reportedly suggests that Twitter can be used as a window into a region’s psychological health.

“When people in your community are angry you are likely to feel that simply through psychological contagion,” stated lead researcher Johannes Eichstaedt, a University of Pennsylvania graduate student.

Although the recent findings may be opening doors in exploring the psychological state of the people in a specific region, Cardiologist Dr. Sahil Parikh, at UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio reportedly stated that readers should take the results with a “very large grain of salt.”

Even though it’s “reasonable” to say that negative emotions related to stress can predict heart disease, the age difference between social media users and people having heart attacks reportedly doesn’t match up.

“I don’t know how many 65-, 75-year-old women are out there tweeting. While there might be a lot of angry young people in a certain area, I’m not sure how well that correlates with emotional well-being in those who are older and not Twitter users,” explained Parikh.

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