DEC 19, 2017 6:26 AM PST

Increasing Risk of Heart Disease for Children Facing Abuse and Adversity

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Unhealthy responses to stress, whether physical or emotional, as a result of abuse, violence, and other experiences of adversity in childhood and teen years are linked to an increased risk of heart disease later in life. A recent review of research led by the American Heart Association (AHA) came to this conclusion, and now experts are hoping to find new ways to prevent both heart disease and negative childhood experiences that raise the risk of developing it.

"We are talking about children and teens experiencing physical and sexual abuse and witnessing violence,” said Shakira Suglia, ScD from Emory University. “Sadly, the negative consequences of experiencing these events does not end when the experience ends, it lasts many years after exposure."

Experts report that over half of all Americans report experiencing some sort of adversity in their childhood, whether it is violence, bullying, abuse, or some other threat to their physical or social well-being. Not all who experience adversity will develop heart disease because of it, though, which means that there are certain factors that counter the effect of adversity.

Researchers found a strong connection between children who have adverse experiences and adults who ultimately develop risk factors for heart disease like obesity, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes earlier than individuals who did not have these experiences growing up. And has research has shown time and time again, these well-established risk factors for heart disease often lead to coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and strokes.

"We need more research to better understand how to help people who have had adversity in childhood prevent or delay the development of heart and blood vessel diseases,” researchers from the AHA wrote.

How are experiences of adversity and heart health related? The specific mechanisms are difficult to pin down, but ultimately researchers believe that it is behavioral, mental, and biological reactions to increased stress from childhood adversity that lead to heart disease later in life.

For example, studies show that chronic childhood stress is linked to depression, anxiety, and mood disorders, as well as the disturbance of of immune, metabolic, nervous, and endocrine development and function.

Going forward, AHA researchers and other experts plan on studying the link between childhood adversity and heart disease further, with the hope that early identification of high-risk individuals can help reduce the overall burden of heart disease.

The present study was published in the journal Circulation.

Sources: American Heart Association

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
JUN 16, 2020
Immunology
Stronger Skeletal Muscles May Reflect A Sturdy Immune System
JUN 16, 2020
Stronger Skeletal Muscles May Reflect A Sturdy Immune System
Individuals struggling to recover from chronic infections and cancer usually experience reduced immune strength and weig ...
JUN 22, 2020
Earth & The Environment
Half of the global population is exposed to air pollution
JUN 22, 2020
Half of the global population is exposed to air pollution
A World Health Organization study published recently in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science reports that half of ...
JUN 28, 2020
Microbiology
A Brief History of the 1918 Pandemic Flu
JUN 28, 2020
A Brief History of the 1918 Pandemic Flu
The 1918 pandemic flu was caused by a variant of the HIN1 strain of the influenza virus, and its genome shows that it pr ...
JUL 02, 2020
Neuroscience
Light to Moderate Drinking May Prevent Cognitive Decline in Older Adults
JUL 02, 2020
Light to Moderate Drinking May Prevent Cognitive Decline in Older Adults
A study from the University of Georgia has found that light to moderate drinking may preserve brain function in older ag ...
JUL 07, 2020
Immunology
Existing drugs can prevent SARS-CoV-2 from hijacking cells
JUL 07, 2020
Existing drugs can prevent SARS-CoV-2 from hijacking cells
An international team of researchers has analysed how SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, hijacks the proteins i ...
JUL 13, 2020
Cancer
Workers in Transportation Might be More at Risk for Cancer
JUL 13, 2020
Workers in Transportation Might be More at Risk for Cancer
Road transportation workers are essential employees in any country. They represent truck, bus, taxi, and other such driv ...
Loading Comments...