Background: The American Heart Association recently defined ideal cardiovascular health by simultaneous presence of seven health behaviors and factors. The concept is associated with cardiovascular disease incidence, and cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. To effectively promote ideal cardiovascular health already early in life, childhood factors predicting future ideal cardiovascular health should be investigated. Our aim was thus to comprehensively explore childhood determinants of adult ideal cardiovascular health in population based cohorts from three continents.
Methods: The sample comprised a total of 4409 participants aged 3-19 years at baseline from the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study (YFS; N = 1883) from Finland, Childhood Determinants of Adult Health Study (CDAH; N = 1803) from Australia and Princeton Follow-up Study (PFS; N = 723) from the United States. Participants were re-examined 19-31 years later when aged 30-48 years.
Results: In multivariable analyses, independent childhood predictors of adult ideal cardiovascular health were family socioeconomic status (P < 0.01; direct association) and BMI (P < 0.001; inverse association) in all cohorts. In addition, blood pressure (P = 0.007), LDL-cholesterol (P < 0.001) and parental smoking (P = 0.006) in the YFS, and own smoking (P = 0.001) in CDAH were inversely associated with future ideal cardiovascular health.
Conclusions: Among several lifestyle and clinical indicators studied, higher family socioeconomic status and non-smoking (parental/own) in childhood independently predict ideal cardiovascular health in adulthood. As atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases are rooted in childhood, our findings suggest that special attention could be paid to children who are from low socioeconomic status families, and who smoke or whose parents smoke, to prevent cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality.
Keywords: Cardiovascular diseases; Children; Epidemiology; Prevention; Risk factors.