Abused children are more prone to heart disease as adults: study
links stress with chronic inflammation
LINDA NGUYEN, Postmedia News July 24, 2010
abuse may be a predictor for heart disease in adult life, suggests a study published this week by the University of Toronto.
study, which appeared online in the Child Abuse and Neglect journal, used 2005 Statistics Canada data on 13,000 adults living
in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Seven per cent of respondents reported that they had been abused as children by someone close
to them, and four per cent said they had been diagnosed with heart disease as adults.
we found was that people who were abused had 45 per cent higher odds of having heart disease than those who weren't," said
study coauthor Esme Fuller-Thomson yesterday. "A few studies have found similar links between these two variables. It's an
said the researchers took into account a number of factors linked to heart disease, such as poverty and family history and
found that there was no substantial impact
who is a social work and medical professor, said further research needs to be conducted to be able to explain physiologically
why childhood physical abuse may trigger heart disease.
theory is that victimized children have more cortisol, also known as the "fight or flight" or stress hormone, in their bodies.
children are more likely to be always alert, they can't relax and become more vulnerable to stress because they worry whether
they will be abused," she said.
literature has indicated that people with heart disease have higher rates of cortisol."
theory is that people with more stress are also more likely to have chronic inflammation, which is shown to be at higher rates
in heart disease patients.
abuse is just one factor of many," Fuller-Thomson said. "I don't want people who experienced abuse to feel like they've been
condemned to have heart disease. They have slightly higher odds and just need to be more vigilant in monitoring their weight
and checking their blood pressure."
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