Heart Smart Living
Heart Smart Living

Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.

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Parents' Divorce May Triple Son's Risk for Stroke

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In a recent post, I told you about an important study that found a link between emotional neglect in childhood and the risk for stroke later in life. Now a new study from the University of Toronto finds more compelling evidence that stress during childhood increases health risks later in life.

Dr. Esme Fuller-Thompson’s research addresses the long-term health effects of childhood experiences. Her most recent publication focuses on the health of men and women whose parents divorced before they reached the age of 18. None of them had experienced family violence or addictive behavior while growing up, and all were compared to a control group of similar age, physical and mental health, and socioeconomic status.

While the women in the study did not appear to be at higher risk for stroke, the men suffered three times as many strokes as would be expected for their age and risk factors. The study was not designed to determine exactly why this happened, but Dr. Fuller-Thompson has hypothesized that higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol may be to blame. It’s tempting to speculate that perhaps boys are more apt to internalize their stress than girls.

About one in every two marriages in the U.S. ends in divorce. Many times there are kids involved, and more often than not, their lives become disrupted and unpredictable. While the reasons behind each divorce are complex, it’s important that divorcing parents recognize the potential mental and physical impact of their decision on their children and do everything in their power to ensure a calm, secure, and loving environment. Your children’s lives may truly depend on it.

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Tags: Risk Factors for Heart Disease , Men and Heart Health

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About the Author


MD, FACC

Dr. Samaan is an acclaimed cardiologist, writer, and heart health educator.

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