Association of Parental Cardiovascular Health With Disability-Adjusted Life Years in the Offspring: Results From the Framingham Heart Study

Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2023 Jan;16(1):e008809. doi: 10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.121.008809. Epub 2022 Dec 9.


Background: Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) are used to evaluate the relative burden of diseases in populations to help set prevention or treatment priorities. The impact of parental cardiovascular health (CVH) on healthy life years lost from cardiovascular disease (CVD) in adult offspring is unknown. We compared parent-offspring CVD DALYs trends over the life course and examined the association of parental CVH with offspring CVD DALYs.

Methods: Using data from the Framingham Heart Study, 4814 offspring-mother-father trios were matched for age at selected baseline exams. CVH score was computed from the number of CVH metrics attained at recommended levels: poor (0-2), intermediate (3-4), and ideal (5-7). CVD DALYs were defined as the sum of years of life lost and years lived with CVD. Age-sex-standardized life expectancy and disability weights were derived from the actuarial life tables and Global Burden of Disease study, respectively. Multivariable-adjusted linear regression was used to investigate the association of parental CVH with offspring CVD DALYs.

Results: Over an equal 47-year follow-up, parents lost nearly twice the number of CVD DALYs compared to their offspring (23 234 versus 12 217). However, age-adjusted CVD DALYs were higher at younger ages and similar along the life course for parents and offspring. One-unit increase in parental CVH was associated with 5 healthy life months saved in offspring. Offspring of mothers with ideal versus poor CVH had 3 healthy life years saved (β=-3.0 DALYs [95% CI, -5.6 to -0.3]). No statistically significant association was found between paternal CVH categories and offspring CVD DALYs.

Conclusions: Higher maternal and paternal CVH were associated with increased healthy life years in offspring; however, the association was strongest between mothers and offspring. Investment in CVH promotion along the life course has the potential to reduce the burden of CVD in the current and future generation of adults.

Keywords: Global Burden of Disease; cardiovascular disease; child; disability-adjusted life years; parents.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Disability-Adjusted Life Years*
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Parents
  • Risk Factors