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Parental cardiovascular health predicts time to onset of cardiovascular disease in offspring

Muchira J, Gona P, Mogos M, Stuart-Shor E, Leveille S, Piano M, Hayman L (2020) European Journal of Preventive Cardiology doi:10.1093/eurjpc/zwaa072  

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Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors are transmitted from parents to children. We prospectively examined the association between parental cardiovascular health (CVH) and time to onset of CVD in the offspring.

Methods and results

The study consisted of a total of 5967 offspring–mother–father trios derived from the Framingham Heart Study. Cardiovascular health score was defined using the seven American Heart Association’s CVH metrics attained at ideal levels: poor (0–2), intermediate (3–4), and ideal CVH (5–7). Multivariable-adjusted Cox proportional hazards regression models, Kaplan–Meier plots, and Irwin’s restricted mean were used to examine the association and sex-specific differences between parental CVH and offspring’s CVD-free survival. In a total of 71 974 person-years of follow-up among the offspring, 718 incident CVD events occurred. The overall CVD incidence rate was 10 per 1000 person-years [95% confidence interval (CI) 9.3–10.7]. Offspring of mothers with ideal CVH lived 9 more years free of CVD than offspring of mothers with poor CVH (P < 0.001). Maternal poor CVH was associated with twice as high hazard of early onset of CVD compared with maternal ideal CVH (adjusted Hazard Ratio 2.09, 95% CI 1.50–2.92). No statistically significant association was observed in the hazards of CVD-free survival by paternal CVH categories.


We found that offspring of parents with ideal CVH had a greater CVD-free survival. Maternal CVH was a more robust predictor of offspring’s CVD-free survival than paternal CVH, underscoring the need for clinical and policy interventions that involve mothers to break the intergenerational cycle of CVD-related morbidity and mortality.