Mother's healthy lifestyle make her kids live nearly a decade longer without cardiovascular disease, as per the study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. "Our study suggests that mothers are the primary gatekeepers of their children's health," said study author Dr. James Muchira of Vanderbilt University, Nashville and the University of Massachusetts, Boston. "This maternal influence persists into the adulthood of their offspring.
‘Pairing mothers and her kids in an exercise or diet improvement programme could improve their cardiovascular health significantly.’" Previous studies have shown that parents pass on health to their kids through both genes and environment/lifestyle. This was the first study to assess if parents' heart health was linked to the age at which offspring develop cardiovascular disease.
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The study was conducted in offspring-mother-father trios with a total of 1,989 offspring, 1,989 mothers, and 1,989 fathers.
Offspring were enrolled at an average age of 32 years and followed over 46 years (1971-2017) for the development of cardiovascular events. "Crucially, the study followed offspring into most of their adult life when heart attacks and strokes actually occur," explained Dr. Muchira.
Cardiovascular health was rated according to seven factors: not smoking, healthy diet, physically active, and normal body mass index, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood glucose. The three categories of cardiovascular health were: poor, intermediate, and ideal.
The researchers assessed the link between parental cardiovascular health and their offspring's life without cardiovascular disease. Links between each pair were assessed, i.e. mother-daughter, mother-son, father-daughter, and father-son.
Poor maternal heart health was linked to twice the hazard of early onset heart problems. Fathers' heart health did not have a statistically significant effect on the length of time kids lived without cardiovascular disease.
Sons were more affected than daughters by the mother's unhealthy lifestyle. Dr. Muchira said: "This was because sons had more unfavorable lifestyle habits than daughters, making the situation even worse.br>
It shows that individuals can take charge of their own health. People who inherit a high risk from their mother can reduce that risk by exercising and eating well. If they don't, the risk will be multiplied."
The authors state that improving heart health among women of reproductive age and mothers with young children has the potential to break the cycle of preventable cardiovascular disease.
"Family-based interventions should occur during pregnancy and very early in the child's life, so that the real impact of protective cardiovascular health tracks into adulthood," said Dr Muchira.
"For example, pairing mothers and young children in an exercise or diet improvement programme. If children grow into healthy adults, they will not acquire the same cardiovascular risk as their parents, a situation that will raise the chances of having even healthier grandchildren."