Scientists that specialize in cardiovascular systems recently conducted research regarding the development of cardiovascular disease in adults. The heart is one of the most crucial organs within the human body. In fact, death is inevitable without a fully functioning heart. There are many factors that contribute to heart health. Previous work has suggested that emotional and traumatic childhood experiences may contribute to the development of a cardiovascular disease later in life. Researchers decided to conduct an experiment in order to determine if there is an association or if the information is simply a myth.
The researched relied heavily on the CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults) study. This particular study evaluated approximately 3500 individuals from 1985 to 2018. Each participant completed the Childhood Family Environment (CFE) questionnaire in 2000. The CFE assesses how often the participants experienced the 7 elements of a family environment. These elements included parental love and support, verbal abuse, physical affection, physical abuse, presence of an alcohol abuser in the home, organization and management of the household, and parental/guardian knowledge of what the participants were doing throughout their childhood. Participants indicated how often they experienced each based and they were given a score from 0-7. A higher score indicated a more traumatic childhood environment. In addition to the CFE questionnaire, participants were contacted periodically via telephone to provide information regarding their health. Their medical records were reviewed, and the diagnosis of any cardiovascular disease was noted.
Is there an association or is there not an association? Take your final guess. If you guessed that there was an association then you were right! The results suggested that there is an association between an individual’s
childhood experiences and the development of a cardiovascular disease later in life. Those with moderate to high CFE scores had a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease than those with low CFE scores. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that only 198 individuals were diagnosed with a cardiovascular disease. That is a fairly low number of individuals. It is still safe to say that an association exists, however, a larger population size provides more substantial evidence for an association.
The results signified that adults who had traumatic childhood experiences are at an increased risk for developing a cardiovascular disease. It is important to acknowledge that there are other factors that may contribute as well. The research conducted needed to be adjusted for other variables including demographics, socioeconomic status, psychological factors, and health factors. When the data was adjusted, the results were less statistically significant, meaning that the association between traumatic childhood experiences and cardiovascular disease is not as strong as it was originally thought to be. Regardless, this research provided readers with valuable knowledge about cardiovascular disease. It goes to show just how important it is to create the best environment for your child as possible. After all, you never know how ones childhood will impact their health in the future.
Pierce, J.B.., Kershaw, K.N., Kiefe, C.I., Jacobs, D.R., Sidney, S., Merkin, S.S., & Feinglass, J. 2020. Association of Childhood Psychosocial Environment With 30-Year Cardiovascular Disease Incidence and Mortality in Middle Age. Journal of the American Heart Association: 1-10.