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Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term that includes coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke, among others. Together, these diseases are the primary cause of death among people living in the United States. Findings from a recent study indicate that a woman’s cardiovascular health influences her children’s cardiovascular health.

The study drew on data from nearly 6,000 mother-father-child triads of participants enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study, a long-term, ongoing study of cardiovascular disease risk among people living in Framingham, Massachusetts. The authors of the study scored the participants' cardiovascular health according to the American Heart Association scoring system, ranking them as having poor, intermediate, or ideal cardiovascular health.

The study spanned nearly 72,000 person-years, during which 718 cardiovascular events occurred. Children of mothers whose cardiovascular health was ideal lived nine more years free of cardiovascular disease than those whose mothers had poor cardiovascular health. Onset of poor cardiovascular health occurred earlier among children whose mothers had poor cardiovascular health, with nearly twice the risk of early-onset cardiovascular disease compared with children of women with ideal cardiovascular health.

These findings suggest that a woman’s cardiovascular health can predict that of her children’s and underscore the importance of public health and clinical interventions designed to improve cardiovascular fitness.

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