Child Abuse Linked to Heart Disease

July 26, 2010

Child abuse is associated with significantly elevated rates of heart disease in adulthood, according to research published in Child Abuse & Neglect.

Childhood physical abuse was found to be associated with significantly elevated rates of heart disease in adulthood, according to research published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect.

Individuals who reported they suffered physical abuse as children had a 45% higher chance of developing heart disease than those who had not been abused, despite the fact that researchers adjusted for known risk factors for heart disease, said lead investigator Esme Fuller-Thomson, professor at the University of Toronto, in an online report.

Fuller-Thomson and colleagues analyzed data from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey; of the 13,000 respondents, 7.4% indicated that they had been physically abused as a child, and 4.4% reported that they had been diagnosed with heart disease. Even after controlling for childhood stressors, adult health behaviors, adult stressors, depression, and high pressure, the link between childhood and abuse persisted.

Investigators believe that future research is needed to examine the potential mechanisms through which childhood physical abuse is associated with heart disease.