Exposure to stress in adolescence might put teens at an increased cardiovascular disease risk in adulthood, suggests a new study.
Andrew J. Fuligni, a professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA has revealed that stressful experiences might put otherwise healthy kids at increased heart disease risk.
The researchers found that a greater frequency of stress was associated with higher levels of an inflammatory marker called C-reactive protein, or CRP, which has been identified as an indicator for the later development of cardiovascular disease
"Although most research on stress and inflammation has focused upon adulthood, these results show that such links can occur as early as the teenage years, even among a healthy sample of young men and women," Fuligni said.
"That suggests that alterations in the biological substrates that initiate CVD begin before adulthood," he added.
During the study, the researchers looked at 69 adolescents, average age 17, from Latin American and European backgrounds
They completed a daily diary checklist each night for 14 days. In it, they reported any experiences of negative interpersonal interaction with family, peers or school personnel - for example, conflicts with family and friends, peer harassment or any kind of punishment by parents or teachers.
Blood samples were obtained an average of eight months later and assayed for circulating levels of the CRP protein.
They found that daily interpersonal stress experienced during the high school years was associated with elevated levels of inflammation, as measured by higher levels of CRP, even among normal, healthy teens.
Fuligni suggests the results of this research show the importance of focusing on actual daily stressful experiences when examining the implications of psychological and social factors for the development of risk for CVD during the teenage years.
"Although the frequency of some of these experiences may be low, they could have a significant impact upon long-term physical health during adulthood," Fulgini said.
The study appears journal Psychosomatic Medicine.