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Adverse childhood may increase risk of heart disease

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

A difficult childhood in which conflict with parents was common may increase a person's chances of receiving an unhealthy cholesterol test or developing other risk factors for heart disease later in life, according to a new study from a team of Brown University researchers.

An unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity in adulthood are known to be among the leading causes of high cholesterol and heart disease. However, researchers are increasingly identifying factors from childhood that impact a person's risk of heart disease.

For the study, researchers surveyed more than 3,500 adults about their childhood and rated the adversity faced by each participant on a 21-point scale. The results showed that for every one-point increase on the adversity scale, participants were 1 percent more likely to suffer from heart disease.

Physical or verbal threats and abuse were used to determine the degree to which a participant's childhood was troubled.

"We often think about how the early family psychosocial environment influences the mental health of kids," said Eric Loucks, who led the study. "The fact that it may be important for chronic diseases, like heart disease, hasn't been thought of as much."

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