Psychological wellbeing in adolescence linked to adult risk of cardiovascular disease

February 23, 2022
Psychological wellbeing in adolescence linked to adult risk of cardiovascular disease

New research findings underline the value of optimism in an adolescent’s life, as it is directly tied to the adult risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to Anand Chockalingam, cardiologist, and professor of clinical medicine at the University of Missouri. Chockalingam and colleague Sharan Srinivas, an assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering at the university, found that people who are more optimistic or positive when they are adolescents are able to lower their chances of being in the high-risk category for CVD as an adult.

The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) database aided this study – nearly 20,000 adolescent study participants provided necessary and diverse information, corelating adolescent psychological wellbeing and adult CVD risk.

“We are recognising the role of the environment and lifestyle in heart disease,” said Chockalingam. “Some prior research has shown that more than 80% of all heart attacks can be prevented with a few simple lifestyle interventions at any point in the individual’s life. Although a heart attack may occur at the age of 55, the underlying buildup of plaque or atherosclerosis starts much earlier, often in teenage years. By exploring healthy habits (both mental and physical) and connecting with optimistic peers in the impressionable teenage years, it becomes intuitive to sustain a good lifestyle.”

Both researchers have personal experience that reflects the results of their study.

Meanwhile, sports enthusiast Srinivas believes this study could help clinicians develop a personalised approach to lower someone’s CVD risk, for example, by integrating problem-solving techniques currently used by industrial engineers that place an emphasis on prevention and early detection of heart disease.

“There are several step-by-step techniques established by industrial engineers that help with early detection of problems in the manufacturing and service industries,” said Srinivas. “This is an opportunity to adapt some of these techniques to enable health care practitioners to monitor the well-being of an adolescent over time, because that’s the formative stage where your outlook on life is established, and it doesn’t change much after that.”

In the future, Srinivas would like to explore the use of other industrial engineering and data analytics techniques, such as machine learning.

“We want to use these techniques to help predict the long-term risk for CVD among adolescents and uncover the impact that underlying factors can have on a person’s chance to develop CVD, including the influence of a person’s well-being,” Srinivas added.

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Category: Education, Features

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