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Childhood stress, emotional distress, and cardiovascular function in adolescents

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Associations between depression, chronic stress, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) are often reported in the literature, suggesting that individuals with poor psychological health are at a higher risk for developing CVD and CVD-related mortality. Much of the research in this area has been carried out among adult populations, but there is growing evidence that the origins of these relationships occur at a much younger age. In the current chapter, the childhood and adolescent literature is reviewed with a focus on the effects of depression and psychosocial stress on a set of intermediary markers for CVD, namely, endothelial function and arterial stiffness. Findings arising from the adolescent phase of the Lifestyle of Our Kids (LOOK) study, a collaborative longitudinal study, are presented. From these findings, it is clear that children as young as 12 years old are already experiencing stress and depressive symptoms and more so in less fit and fatter children. Although we did not uncover any direct impact of psychological health on cardiovascular function, given the risks associated with low fitness and obesity, depression and psychosocial stress in childhood and adolescence may be exerting an early impact on the risk of developing CVD in later life.




Olive, L., Byrne, D., Telford, R., Abhayaratna, W., & Telford, R. (2016). Childhood stress, emotional distress, and cardiovascular function in adolescents. In Handbook of Psychocardiology (pp. 213–227). Springer Singapore.

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