Experiencing adverse situations during childhood can harm long-term heart health, while, on the contrary, children who receive love and good care and establish a healthy emotional bond with their parents or caregivers enjoy better cardiovascular health later in life. , according to a study led by New York University Grossman School of Medicine and Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
The findings were published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes of the American Heart Association (AHA) and, according to its authors, it would be the first study to find a link between a warm and affectionate family environment and cardiovascular health in different stages of adult life.
Support and affection at an early age are essential for children. (Photo: Adobe Stock)
“We know that prevention of cardiovascular disease risk factors must begin in childhood,” said Dr. Robin Ortiz, assistant professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Population Health at NYU Langone, a senior faculty member at the Institute. for Excellence in Health Equity and lead author of the study.
“At the same time, our findings show that early childhood adversity does not equal destiny. Although adverse family environments in childhood were associated with lower odds of cardiovascular health in adulthood, our findings suggest that support and, more importantly, stable and consistent caregiving may have a stronger influence on health later heart failure than early adversity,” he added
The impact of negative experiences on health
The results indicate that a positive and warm relationship between caregiver and child would increase the probability of enjoying good cardiac health during adulthood, while those who have experienced more adversity are at risk of having poorer cardiovascular health in the future. .
Read also The type of activity that sedentary children should do to reduce cholesterol
“We knew that early childhood health lays the foundation for a healthier future, and we have proven that the way children interact with adults can also have an impact,” said Robin Ortiz, who recommends that adults who have children in their care receive support to foster safe, stable and affectionate relationships with minors as a way to create healthy habits in childhood that last into adulthood. Based on his findings, he adds that healthcare professionals should take home health and well-being into account when addressing cardiovascular health at any age.
The team of researchers analyzed a sample of 2,074 participants in the CARDIA study, a long-term study of the risk of cardiovascular disease that begins in early adulthood and followed more than 5,000 adults for more than 35 years to help Researchers understand how early life factors increase the risk of cardiovascular disease later in life.
The researchers analyzed data from this group at the start of the study, at which time the cohort had an average age of 25 years, and follow-up data at intervals between seven and 20 years. Using scales measuring childhood adversity, including child abuse and caregiver warmth, they found that each additional unit score of adversity in the general family environment, and specifically child abuse, was associated with 3.6% and 12.8% less likely to have ideal cardiovascular health (CVH), respectively, while each additional caregiver warmth unit score was associated with 11.7% more likely to have cardiovascular health .
A healthy family environment is important for children to grow up healthy. (Photo: Adobe Stock)
Exposure to caregiver warmth in childhood was associated with greater CVH (higher scores) in adults. Ortiz believes that while having a supportive caregiver is crucial for health throughout the lifespan, the stability and consistency of that support and warmth in childhood is an equally important predictor of CVH later in life.
The findings further suggest that an unpredictable or unstable relational environment may be associated with poorer future health, while stable or predictable support in childhood may optimize physiology and behavior to result in greater CVH in later life. future. The hope, according to Ortiz, is that this study will offer insight into how supporting healthy, stable, and supportive caregiving relationships in childhood can offer greater achievement of CVH at the population level. “We need policies and programs that support both caregivers and children to achieve greater health equity,” concludes Ortiz.