As diligent readers of the blog, I’m sure you know by now how detrimental stress is to your heart health. Just earlier this week we posted some remarkable research on optimism and heart health, once again tying attitude and perception with overall health. Once again research has emerged making that connection between stress and heart health.


The Heart Study

In a long-term study of more than 1,000 men and women, those who had a higher socioeconomic status, positive emotional factors, better parental health behaviors, fewer stressful events and better social adjustment from age three to 18 had more ‘ideal cardiovascular heath’ 27 years later, well into adulthood.

The study out of Finland found a strong correlation between the attitude of a child and the strength of that child’s heart as an adult.

Childhood self-control and parental education level and income were the strongest predictors of later heart health, the authors write in Circulation. Having as many positive psychosocial factors as possible in childhood was associated with a 12 to 14 percent greater likelihood of being a healthy weight and being a non-smoker as an adult.

Children who were well adjusted fared far better in terms of heart health as adults then those who were stressed or troubled in some way as children. Think about that for a moment – the way you or your child is raised, how much stress they face during childhood, how well they deal with stressful situations, and so many other socioeconomical factors, directly impacts how healthy their heart will be as adults. Remarkable, right? It’s also a lot of pressure for parents.

“One simple advice for parents would be ‘spend time with your children and remember that children learn from your behavior and acts’,” though parents with more socioeconomic resources are in a better position to do this, Elovainio noted.

“One thing that parents can do is to pay attention to mental illness and depression, as there are clear links between depression and cardiovascular health,” said Dr. Elaine M. Urbina, director of preventive cardiology at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio.

Raising a child is not easy, and every parent does the best that they can. But starting young and instilling heart healthy habits can impact them for the rest of their lives.

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