Each episode of mental Stress that we face in our lives increases our risk of developing heart disease. This is true even for the mental stressed that we face as children. The stress of not fitting it, of feeling awkward, and of fear of failing that algebra test will play a part in our development of heart disease later in life.
According to the article in the Journal of the American College of cardiology, the mental stress from childhood can increase our adult chances of heart disease even if the stress does not cross over into our adult lives.
The study on Stress
A study with six thousand and seven hundred participants ranging in age from seven to forty two years was conducted to determine some of the harmful effects that stress, even stress felt as a child, has on the human heart.
Over a period of time, the participants were checked several times to assess the amount of stress they felt. The evaluations began when the participants were seven, and then they were checked again when they were eleven, and then again when they were sixteen.
The participants reported to the researchers the condition of their mental health when they were approximately twenty three, then again ten years later when they were thirty three, and again ten years later when they were forty three.
When the participants turned forty five they were evaluated to determine their blood pressure, their cholesterol levels, and to see how strong their immune systems were.
The participants who had reportedly experienced high levels of stress repeatedly throughout the study were at the highest risk of developing heart related complications.
The participants who experienced high levels of stress when they were children, but did not have high levels of stress as adults, also had an increased risk of developing heart disease compared to the participants who had moderate to low levels of stress as children.
The individuals who were reported as having low stress levels as children, but high stress levels as adults, also had higher than average risks of heart disease.
What this means
This study proves that how we handle stress is vital to how healthy we will remain. The researchers believe that when a child goes through emotional stressors, they should have help to overcome the stress and to learn to live without starting to engage in activities like smoking in order to relieve that stress.
If we take the stresses of childhood more seriously, then we will be able to prevent more people from developing stress related cardiovascular conditions.
How to help children deal with stress
Children should be taught methods of handling stress. Exercise is one of the best methods of dealing with stress, and it is beneficial to the heart in other ways.
Teach children to draw, or write in a journal, so they can express their emotions and not keep them bottled up inside.
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