Childhood adversity may have lingering effects on cardiovascular health
Individuals who have survived an adverse childhood family environment (CFE) face its lasting effects later in life—specifically, increased risks of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all-cause death, a study has found.
The analysis included 3,646 participants (mean age at enrolment, 25.1 years; 56 percent female) from the CARDIA* study who completed the Risky Families questionnaire, which was adapted from the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) questionnaire and evaluated the frequency of experiencing the following: parental love and support, verbal abuse, physical affection, physical abuse, presence of alcohol/drug abuser in the home, how well‐organized and well‐managed the household was, and parental/guardian knowledge of what participants were up to during childhood.
Mean CFE adversity score was 1.7, with 1,781 participants in the low CFE range, 1,043 in the medium range, and 822 in the high range. Participants with higher CFE adversity were more likely to have lower socioeconomic status, higher rates of smoking, lower systolic blood pressure, and higher rates of depressive symptoms.
Over a median follow‐up of 30.9 years, 198 participants developed CVD (incidence rate overall, 17.9 per 10,000 person‐years). The incidence rate increased with higher CFE adversity scores: 14.7, 20.1, and 22.2 events/10,000 person‐years in the low, moderate, and high CFE range, respectively.
Sequential multivariable regression models showed that compared with those in the low CFE range, participants in the moderate and high CFE ranges had higher risks of incident CVD (hazard ratios [HRs], 1.25 and 1.40, respectively) and all‐cause mortality (HRs, 1.55 and 1.68, respectively).
The findings indicate that CFE has a significant impact on risk of cardiovascular events and mortality throughout an individual's life course. Researchers noted that such a relationship may have been partially mediated by traditional CVD risk factors present in young adulthood.
*Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults