Prolonged Stress in Young Adults Puts Them at Risk of Cardiometabolic Diseases, Study Shows

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High stress from adolescence to adulthood correlates with elevated cardiometabolic risk factors, such as high blood pressure and obesity, in young adults. Research in the Journal of the American Heart Association reveals a strong association between prolonged stress and the likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases, encompassing obesity, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

Childhood stress can lead to cardiometabolic disease

Fangqi Guo, Ph.D., from the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, emphasizes the significance of understanding childhood stress effects to prevent cardiometabolic risks in young adults. Guo explained that long-term perceived stress influences fat distribution, vascular health, and obesity, underlining the importance of early stress management for overall health.

In 2020, cardiometabolic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes, accounted for nearly 25% of U.S. deaths, as per the American Heart Association. According to the association here is a strong link between cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, type II diabetes, and obesity, proposing a redefinition of cardiovascular risk and management.

Childhood adversities impact lifelong cardiometabolic health, with early interventions deemed more effective. A 2017 American Heart Association statement noted the influence of childhood adversities, and recent research links perceived stress to cardiometabolic conditions.

In this research, data from the Southern California Children’s Health Study was examined. Participants, enrolled as children with parents, underwent follow-up assessments as adolescents (average age 13) and young adults (average age 24). Stress levels were assessed using a four-item Perceived Stress Scale, categorizing individuals into consistently high, decreasing, increasing, or consistently low stress groups over time.

Individuals with prolonged stress have poor vascular health

Guo and colleagues assessed cardiometabolic risk in young adults using measures such as carotid artery intima-media thickness, blood pressure, weight, body fat percentage, fat distribution, and hemoglobin A1c. Elevated stress levels from adolescence to adulthood correlated with increased risk for cardiometabolic diseases.

Those with prolonged stress exhibited poorer vascular health, higher body fat, abdominal fat, and elevated obesity risk compared to less stressed individuals. Overall, heightened stress levels were linked to worse vascular health, increased systolic/diastolic blood pressure, and elevated cardiometabolic risks in adults.

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