In the Journals

Childhood abuse, adversity linked to adult CV risk

Physical and mental abuse experienced in childhood may have a significant effect on cardiometabolic outcomes during the life course into adulthood, according to a scientific statement released by the American Heart Association.

“It is now well-established that experiences in childhood and adolescence are associated with health over the life course,” Shakira Suglia, ScD, associate professor of epidemiology at Emory University, and colleagues wrote. “Adverse childhood experiences, which we define as experiences that threaten the child’s bodily, familial, or social safety or security, range from broad categories of maltreatment and household dysfunction to more targeted experiences of bullying, exposure to crime, victimization and economic disadvantage.”

Using peer-reviewed medical journals, Suglia and colleagues based their statement on a review of literature on the influence of childhood and adolescent adversity on cardiometabolic health outcomes, including obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and CVD.

The researchers outlined a number of potential contributing factors that appear to play a role in the development of CV risk.

Behavioral factors

According to Suglia and colleagues, there is evidence to suggest that childhood adversity is linked to unhealthy reactions to stress, such as smoking, overeating, consumption of energy-dense foods and inactivity.

Habitual childhood stress has been known to be associated with increased depression, anxiety and mood disorder risk, which may lead to unhealthy behaviors that result in elevated risk for CVD.

Biological factors

According to the statement, the body’s regulatory systems may be disrupted by childhood adversities, which can lead to alterations in the immune, metabolic, neuroendocrine and autonomic nervous systems.

Although these altered stress responses may help adolescents function in the short term by increasing levels of alertness, the long-term effects of these responses could trigger CV issues such as chronic hypertension, the authors wrote.

Lack of research

Due to a limited understanding of how to prevent or decrease adversity and build resistance, there are currently no national guidelines or recommendations in place for health care providers to monitor children and teens for adversity.

“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,” Suglia said in a press release.

According to the conclusions of the statement, childhood adversity is prevalent in 59% of the U.S. population who report at least one adverse event experience.

“The real tragedy is that children are exposed to these traumatic experiences in the first place. We are talking about children and teens experiencing physical and sexual abuse and witnessing violence,” Suglia said in the release. “Sadly, the negative consequences of experiencing these events does not end when the experience ends, it lasts many years after exposure. Ideally, we want to prevent these things from happening in the first place as well as preventing the health consequences that arise from having these experiences.” – by Dave Quaile

Disclosures: Suglia reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the full statement for the relevant financial disclosures of the other authors and reviewers.

Physical and mental abuse experienced in childhood may have a significant effect on cardiometabolic outcomes during the life course into adulthood, according to a scientific statement released by the American Heart Association.

“It is now well-established that experiences in childhood and adolescence are associated with health over the life course,” Shakira Suglia, ScD, associate professor of epidemiology at Emory University, and colleagues wrote. “Adverse childhood experiences, which we define as experiences that threaten the child’s bodily, familial, or social safety or security, range from broad categories of maltreatment and household dysfunction to more targeted experiences of bullying, exposure to crime, victimization and economic disadvantage.”

Using peer-reviewed medical journals, Suglia and colleagues based their statement on a review of literature on the influence of childhood and adolescent adversity on cardiometabolic health outcomes, including obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and CVD.

The researchers outlined a number of potential contributing factors that appear to play a role in the development of CV risk.

Behavioral factors

According to Suglia and colleagues, there is evidence to suggest that childhood adversity is linked to unhealthy reactions to stress, such as smoking, overeating, consumption of energy-dense foods and inactivity.

Habitual childhood stress has been known to be associated with increased depression, anxiety and mood disorder risk, which may lead to unhealthy behaviors that result in elevated risk for CVD.

PAGE BREAK

Biological factors

According to the statement, the body’s regulatory systems may be disrupted by childhood adversities, which can lead to alterations in the immune, metabolic, neuroendocrine and autonomic nervous systems.

Although these altered stress responses may help adolescents function in the short term by increasing levels of alertness, the long-term effects of these responses could trigger CV issues such as chronic hypertension, the authors wrote.

Lack of research

Due to a limited understanding of how to prevent or decrease adversity and build resistance, there are currently no national guidelines or recommendations in place for health care providers to monitor children and teens for adversity.

“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,” Suglia said in a press release.

According to the conclusions of the statement, childhood adversity is prevalent in 59% of the U.S. population who report at least one adverse event experience.

“The real tragedy is that children are exposed to these traumatic experiences in the first place. We are talking about children and teens experiencing physical and sexual abuse and witnessing violence,” Suglia said in the release. “Sadly, the negative consequences of experiencing these events does not end when the experience ends, it lasts many years after exposure. Ideally, we want to prevent these things from happening in the first place as well as preventing the health consequences that arise from having these experiences.” – by Dave Quaile

Disclosures: Suglia reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the full statement for the relevant financial disclosures of the other authors and reviewers.