Abused and neglected children are much more likely to develop ischemic heart disease as adults than children who were not abused or neglected , according to a new study. Stressful childhoods could lead to self-destructive behaviors such as smoking, drug abuse, and inactivity. This may contribute to the increased risk for heart disease, according to the study.
Results show adults who experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse, physical neglect, or household dysfunction (i.e. incarceration, substance abuse, mental illness, or domestic violence) are 30-percent to 70-percent more likely to develop ischemic heart disease as adults than people who reported not having these negative childhood experiences. Researchers say adults who reported seven or more of these childhood experiences had triple the risk of developing ischemic heart disease than those who did not .
Thus researchers say that psychological factors appear to be more important than traditional risk factors in mediating the relation of [adverse childhood experiences] to the risk of IHD and that these findings provide further insights into the potential pathways by which stressful childhood experiences may increase the risk of IHD in adulthood.