Researchers from Finland and the University of Tasmania, in research published in JAMA Pediatrics, have examined the association between childhood family socio-economic status and left ventricular mass and diastolic function in adulthood. The authors conducted analyses in 2016 of data collected in 1980 and 2011 in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study, which included 1871 participants who reported family socio-economic status (characterised as annual family income) from ages 3 to 18 years. Increased left ventricular mass, assessed by echocardiography, is associated with heart failure not related to heart attack, and left ventricular diastolic dysfunction can be a predictor of heart failure. The authors reported that low family socio-economic status in childhood was associated with increased left ventricular mass and impaired diastolic performance more than 30 years later. This association persisted even after adjusting for age, sex, conventional cardiovascular risk factors in both childhood and adulthood, and the participants’ adult socio-economic status. Echocardiography was not undertaken during childhood, so the researchers were unable to determine precisely when childhood socio-economic status began to be associated with cardiac structure and function. The study population was racially homogenous, limiting the generalisability of the results to white populations. “These findings further emphasise that approaches [to cardiovascular disease] prevention must be directed also to the family environment of the developing child. Particularly, support for families with low [socio-economic status] may pay off in sustaining cardiovascular health to later life.”
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