The researchers conducted their study on a group of rat pups, separating them from their mothers for two hours every day. The pups were also exposed to extra stress in order to raise their blood pressure.
The researchers found that the basic functioning of the heart suffered due to the stress and the relaxation and re-filling of oxygen-rich blood in the heart remained low even when the pups grew up to be six months old, which is equivalent to being middle-aged among rats.
"We expected the heart's ability to relax and refill to lag behind in our model. We believe these babies may be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease and we are working to understand exactly what puts them at risk", lead researcher Dr Catalina Bazacliu said. The study will be presented at the Southern Regional Meetings in New Orleans.