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Vagal Regulation of Cardiac Function in Early Childhood and Cardiovascular Risk in Adolescence


Gangel, Meghan J; Shanahan, Lilly; Kolacz, Jacek; Janssen, James A; Brown, Ashley; Calkins, Susan D; Keane, Susan P; Wideman, Laurie (2017). Vagal Regulation of Cardiac Function in Early Childhood and Cardiovascular Risk in Adolescence. Psychosomatic Medicine, 79(6):614-621.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Poor behavioral self-regulation in the first two decades of life has been identified as an important precursor of disease risk in adulthood. However, physiological regulation has not been well-studied as a disease risk factor before adulthood. We tested whether physiological regulation at age two, in the form of vagal regulation of cardiac function (indexed by RSA change), would predict three indicators of cardiovascular risk at age 16 (diastolic and systolic blood pressure and body mass index).

METHODS: Data came from 229 children who participated in a community-based longitudinal study. At age two, children were assessed for RSA baseline and RSA change [ln(ms)2] in response to a series of challenge tasks. These same children were assessed again at age 16 for diastolic and systolic blood pressure (mmHg), height (m) and weight (kg).

RESULTS: Regression analyses revealed that less RSA withdrawal at age two predicted higher diastolic blood pressure at age 16, adjusting for demographic characteristics (B = -3.07**, S.E. = 1.12, p = .006). Follow-up analyses demonstrated that these predictions extended to clinically significant levels of diastolic prehypertension (odds ratio = 0.43, 95% confidence interval, .22-.89). RSA withdrawal did not significantly predict adolescent body mass index or systolic blood pressure.

CONCLUSIONS: Vagal regulation of cardiac function in early childhood predicts select indicators of cardiovascular risk 14 years later. Early signs of attenuated vagal regulation could indicate an increased risk for elevated blood pressure before adulthood. Future research should test biological, behavioral, and psychological mechanisms underlying these long-term predictions.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Poor behavioral self-regulation in the first two decades of life has been identified as an important precursor of disease risk in adulthood. However, physiological regulation has not been well-studied as a disease risk factor before adulthood. We tested whether physiological regulation at age two, in the form of vagal regulation of cardiac function (indexed by RSA change), would predict three indicators of cardiovascular risk at age 16 (diastolic and systolic blood pressure and body mass index).

METHODS: Data came from 229 children who participated in a community-based longitudinal study. At age two, children were assessed for RSA baseline and RSA change [ln(ms)2] in response to a series of challenge tasks. These same children were assessed again at age 16 for diastolic and systolic blood pressure (mmHg), height (m) and weight (kg).

RESULTS: Regression analyses revealed that less RSA withdrawal at age two predicted higher diastolic blood pressure at age 16, adjusting for demographic characteristics (B = -3.07**, S.E. = 1.12, p = .006). Follow-up analyses demonstrated that these predictions extended to clinically significant levels of diastolic prehypertension (odds ratio = 0.43, 95% confidence interval, .22-.89). RSA withdrawal did not significantly predict adolescent body mass index or systolic blood pressure.

CONCLUSIONS: Vagal regulation of cardiac function in early childhood predicts select indicators of cardiovascular risk 14 years later. Early signs of attenuated vagal regulation could indicate an increased risk for elevated blood pressure before adulthood. Future research should test biological, behavioral, and psychological mechanisms underlying these long-term predictions.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
06 Faculty of Arts > Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Date:15 February 2017
Deposited On:22 Mar 2017 10:05
Last Modified:04 Aug 2017 15:08
Publisher:Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
ISSN:0033-3174
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000000458
PubMed ID:28207613

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