Washington, Oct. 31 (Reuters): Taking care of grandchildren can give women more than a headache — it can raise their risk of heart attack, US researchers reported yesterday.
The study of more than 54,000 nurses found that those who cared for grandchildren at least nine hours a week had a 55 per cent increased risk of heart attack.
It’s probably the stress, said Sunmin Lee of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who led the study, published in the American Journal of Public Health.
“Although our study did not look at underlying factors, it is likely that caregivers have so many demands placed on them that they lose time and energy to take care of themselves,” Lee said in a statement.
“It is possible that their role caring for these children makes it difficult for them to follow basic preventive health behaviors such as exercising, eating right and getting adequate sleep.”
Lee’s team at the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School said statistics show that about one in seven US women have raised a grandchild for six months or more.
Her team used the Nurses Health Study, a giant, regular survey of nurses that regularly questions them about health, diet and lifestyle.
Researchers dip into the data, sorting out trends for a variety of diseases and conditions.
Between 1992 and 1996, there were 321 heart attacks in the group. The nurses who worked as well as taking care of grandchildren did not have a significantly higher risk of heart attack, Lee’s team found.