Study: Fathers Have Worse Heart Health

(Dreamstime)

By    |   Thursday, 30 May 2024 07:54 AM EDT ET

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men, and being a father may put men at an even greater risk of poor heart health later in life. A groundbreaking new study reveals that men who have children have worse cardiovascular health than their peers without kids. Researchers from Northwestern University and the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago published their findings in the journal AJPM Focus.

A study of 2,814 men between the ages of 45 and 84 found cardiovascular health in older age was worse for fathers compared to nonfathers. Study participants’ heart health was rated on their diet, physical activity, smoking habits, weight, blood pressure and level of lipids and glucose in the blood, says a news release from Northwestern.

The results showed that cardiovascular health was not only worse for fathers of older age compared those without children, but also worse for men who became dads at a young age. According to Study Finds, the researchers suggested that the added responsibilities that come with parenthood make it difficult for fathers to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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“The changes in heart health we found suggest that the added responsibility of childcare and the stress of transitioning to fatherhood may make it difficult for men to maintain a healthy lifestyle, such as diet and exercise,” said one of the study authors, Dr. John James Parker, an internist and assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Surprisingly, the study also revealed that fathers had lower mortality rates compared to those without children, despite having poorer cardiovascular health. This could be because dads have a stronger support system through their children.

“We also found that fathers had lower rates of depressive symptoms than nonfathers, so mental health may be contributing to the lower age-adjusted death rates in fathers,” noted Parker.

Young fathers who had their first kids under the age of 25 had the worst heart health outcomes, with higher death rates, especially among Black and Hispanic men. This could be caused by the financial instability of some young fathers who can’t prioritize self-care. 

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“There are a lot of public health interventions for young mothers, but no one has ever really looked at young fathers in this way,” said Parker. Since more men in the U.S. are fathers, this study has important health implications for men, especially men of color, he added.

The study also found that fathers had a higher smoking rate, suggesting that older fathers may quit when when have children but later, when they become stressed, take up the habit again.

“Either way, we should look at what’s happening with smoking rates because smoking is a leading cause of preventive death and if a father is smoking at all it will influence their families as well,” said Parker, pointing out that many studies have focused on the health of mothers  and children but studying fathers is important because their health is a “major influence on their family.”

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men, and being a father may put men at an even greater risk of poor heart health later in life. A groundbreaking new study reveals that men who have children have worse cardiovascular health than their peers without kids....
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Thursday, 30 May 2024 07:54 AM
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