Researchers have found that higher stress levels experienced at the age of seven are associated with significantly higher rates of cardiovascular disease later in life, while children who were better at staying focused experienced fewer health risks. The trend proved especially true for females. “For 40-year-olds who had been prone to distress as a child, the chances of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years increased from 3.2% to 4.2% for women and 7.3 to 8.5% for men.” Past studies have also linked childhood stress with heart disease in adults.
What’s the Big Idea?
Now that poor emotional well-being has been statistically linked with higher rates of disease, researchers will look for the biological mechanisms that underpin the research. Study leader Dr Allison Appleton said: “We know that persistent distress can cause dysregulation of the stress response and that is something we want to look at.” Most importantly, the new information may be used to benefit people’s health: “What we learn when we’re young can often set the tone for our habits later in life, so teaching children about physical activity and a balanced diet is a great place to start.”