Childhood emotional neglect and cardiovascular disease: A narrative review
Psychosocial factors predict the incidence and progression of cardiovascular disease (CVD). There is accumulating evidence for the importance of childhood maltreatment for the development and progression of both CVD-related risk factors and CVD. However, past research has predominantly focused on...
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|Psychosocial factors predict the incidence and progression of cardiovascular disease
(CVD). There is accumulating evidence for the importance of childhood maltreatment for
the development and progression of both CVD-related risk factors and CVD. However,
past research has predominantly focused on active forms of childhood maltreatment
such as emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. At the same time, childhood
neglect as a relatively silent form of childhood maltreatment received less attention.
Childhood emotional neglect is the most common form of neglect. This narrative review
summarizes findings on the association between childhood emotional neglect and CVD
and potential underlying mechanisms. These mechanisms may involve biological factors
(i.e., elevated inflammation, autonomic dysregulation, dysregulated HPA axis, and altered
brain development), psychological variables and mental health (i.e., depression and
anxiety), and health behaviors (i.e., eating behavior, smoking, drug use, physical activity)
and interpersonal aspects. Evidence suggests that emotional neglect is associated with
CVD and CVD risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, inflammation, a dysregulated stress
system, altered brain development, depression and other psychological abnormalities
(i.e., emotion-regulation difficulties), interpersonal difficulties, and lack of health behaviors.
Specific subtypes of childhood maltreatment may be associated with CVD via different
mechanisms. This review further encompasses clinical suggestions, identifies research
gaps, and has implications for future studies. However, more research with better
study designs is desperately needed to identify the exact underlying mechanisms and
opportunities for mitigating the negative health consequences of emotional neglect to
reduce the prevalence and progression of CVD.
|Gefördert durch den Open-Access-Publikationsfonds der UB Marburg.