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Daily Dose: Childhood Stress & Risk for Cardiometabolic Disease

Daily Dose: Childhood Stress & Risk for Cardiometabolic Disease / Image Credit: ©New Africa/AdobeStock
©New Africa/AdobeStock

Patient Care brings primary care clinicians a lot of medical news every day—it’s easy to miss an important study. The Daily Dose provides a concise summary of one of the website's leading stories you may not have seen.

Last week, we reported on findings from a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association that examined how childhood-to-adulthood perceived stress patterns predict cardiometabolic risk in adulthood.

The study

Investigators analyzed data from 276 participants (55.8% women, 62% White, 47.1% Hispanic) from the Southern California Children’s Health Study (2003-2014) who underwent a follow-up assessment from 2018 to 2021.

Parents completed a Perceived Stress Scale for their children at baseline, when the mean age of participants was 6.3 years. The participants completed the scale themselves during adolescence (mean age, 13.3 years) and young adulthood (mean age, 23.6 years).

Participants were grouped into 4 stress patterns: consistently high, decreasing, increasing, and consistently low.

The findings

Results showed that during adulthood, higher Perceived Stress Scale score was associated with increased overall cardiometabolic risk (β=0.12, 95% CI 0.01–0.22), carotid artery intima‐media thickness (β=0.01, 95% CI 0.0003–0.02), SBP (β=1.27, 95% CI 0.09–2.45), and DBP (β=0.94, 95% CI 0.13–1.75).

Participants with a consistently high adolescence-to-adulthood stress pattern had greater overall cardiometabolic risk (β=0.31, 95% CI 0.02-0.6), android-to-gynoid ratio (β=0.07, 95% CI 0.02-0.13), percent body fat (β=2.59, 95% CI 0.01-5.17), and greater odds for obesity (odds ratio [OR] 5.57, 95% CI 1.62-19.1) in adulthood, compared with those with a consistently low Perceived Stress Scale score.

Authors' comment

"Our findings suggest that promoting healthy coping strategies for stress management early in life (eg, adolescence) may facilitate the prevention of cardiometabolic diseases. Future work should investigate the impacts of initiation of stress management interventions earlier in life (eg, adolescence) on patterns of stress over time and implications for cardiometabolic health."

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