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Socioeconomic status in childhood linked with cardiac structure and function in adulthood

University of Turku

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The multicentre trial coordinated by the Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Turku, Finland, shows that low socioeconomic status in childhood increases the risk of higher left ventricular mass and poorer diastolic function in adulthood.

Socioeconomic differences in cardiovascular diseases are a health risk that has not been prevented to this day. Previous studies have shown that lower socioeconomic status increases the risk of sudden cardiac events. However, the mechanisms explaining this are still unclear.

- The increased left ventricular mass of the heart and poorer diastolic function increase the risk of contracting or dying of cardiovascular diseases. They are also both independent prognostic factors for a sudden cardiac event, says researcher, MD Tomi Laitinen from the Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Turku.

Previous studies on adults have shown that lower socioeconomic status is linked with higher left ventricular mass and poorer diastolic function. The impact of socioeconomic status in childhood on these predictive markers of morbidity and mortality in cardiovascular diseases has not been previously studied with longitudinal data.

The study is part of the national Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study coordinated by the Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Turku. The study followed 1,872 persons who were 3-18-year-old at the beginning of the study for 31 years. The participants' socioeconomic status in childhood was measured by their parents' income. The researchers studied the connection between the subjects' socioeconomic status and the ultrasound-detected left ventricular mass and diastolic function of the heart.

- A lower socioeconomic status in childhood was connected with higher left ventricular mass and poorer diastolic function in adulthood. The connection remained, even though the traditional cardiovascular risk factors in childhood and adulthood, and the subjects' socioeconomic status in adulthood were considered, says Laitinen.

The study supports the understanding that, already in childhood, the differences in parents' socioeconomic status create the basis for differences in cardiovascular diseases in adulthood.

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The study was published in the esteemed JAMA Pediatrics journal: http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2634376

>> The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study: http://youngfinnsstudy.utu.fi/index.html

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