Overprotective parents may impact heart anxiety in adults with congenital heart conditions

Sep 15, 2010

Adults with congenital heart disease are more likely to suffer heart-focused anxiety - a fear of heart-related symptoms and sensations - if their parents were overprotective during their childhood and adolescence. Dr. Lephuong Ong from Orion Health Services in Vancouver, and colleagues from University Health Network and York University in Toronto, Canada, suggest that health care professionals could encourage greater independence for adolescents and adults with congenital heart disease to improve their psychosocial adjustment. Dr. Ong's work is published online in Springer's International Journal of Behavioral Medicine.

Approximately one percent of all infants are born with congenital heart defects and over 90 percent of these children survive into adulthood, thanks to recent medical advances. As well as their medical condition, these patients face including anxiety, neurocognitive deficits, body image concerns and difficulties with relationships. Research suggests that levels of parental protection are likely to be higher in children with congenital heart disease compared with healthy children.

Ong and team investigated the relationship between patient recollections of parental overprotection - defined as intrusion, excessive contact, infantilization and prevention of independent behavior - and heart-focused anxiety in adults with congenital heart disease. The researchers assessed heart defect severity, heart-focused anxiety and perceived parental overprotection during childhood for a sub-sample of 192 adults participating in the study.

Their analyses showed that levels of heart-focused anxiety rose as levels of parental overprotection increased. Disease severity was also linked to higher levels. Surprisingly, levels of parental overprotection did not vary with disease severity.

The authors conclude: "Adults with , who report their parents as being overprotective, might have learned to form negative interpretations of their symptoms and use maladaptive coping behaviors, like avoidance and fearful responding, when experiencing cardiac symptoms or when faced with situations that trigger cardiac-related sensations. Clinicians could consider providing recommended activity guidelines for parents and their children to reduce limitations on activities that are deemed medically appropriate, to encourage independence among adolescents and young adults with congenital ."

Explore further: Boys will be boys? Yes, neuroscience now shows

More information: Ong L et al (2010). Parental overprotection and heart-focused anxiety in adults with congenital heart disease. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. DOI 10.1007/s12529-010-9112-y

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

No drop in IQ seen after bypass for child heart surgery

Nov 10, 2008

The use of cardiopulmonary bypass does not cause short-term neurological problems in children and teenagers after surgery for less complex heart defects, according to pediatric researchers. The new finding contrasts favorably ...

Recommended for you

Lift weights, improve your memory

3 hours ago

Here's another reason why it's a good idea to hit the gym: it can improve memory. A new Georgia Institute of Technology study shows that an intense workout of as little as 20 minutes can enhance episodic ...

Fat chats: The good, the bad and the ugly comments

6 hours ago

Cyberbullying and hurtful 'fat jokes' are disturbingly prevalent in the social media environment, especially on Twitter, says Wen-ying Sylvia Chou of the National Institutes of Health in the US. Chou is lead ...

Omega-3 fatty acids may prevent some forms of depression

8 hours ago

Patients with increased inflammation, including those receiving cytokines for medical treatment, have a greatly increased risk of depression. For example, a 6-month treatment course of interferon-alpha therapy ...

User comments : 0