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Why Obese Children Could End Up with Heart Disease or Stroke?

Posted Nov 26 2008 10:27am
In the evolution of heart disease and stroke, there is a saying that “one is as old as his or her arteries”. This does mean that his or her state of arteries is more important than his or her actual age.

A recent paper, presented on November 11, 2008 at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2008 in New Orleans, revealed that neck arteries of obese children and teenagers experienced similar strain as those of middle-aged adults. The researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine and Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, Kansas found that the state of the arteries in these children is more typical of a 45-year-old than of someone their own age.

Data from 34 boys and 36 girls who were likely 'at-risk' because of obesity, abnormal cholesterol and/or a family history of early heart disease were analyzed. These teenagers had an average age of 13, and 89 percent of them were white.

Ultrasound was employed to measure the thickness of neck arteries (carotid arteries) that supply blood from the heart to the brain. When increased carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT, in short) occurs, there is a strong possibility that fatty buildup of plaque has taken place, which can clog the arteries and lead to a heart attack or stroke.

The analysis on the data obtained in the study indicated that the children’s ‘vascular age’ was approximately 30 years older than their actual age. A person’s vascular age refers to the age at which the level of artery thickening would be normal for his or her actual age.

In the meantime, the researchers also discovered that a higher body mass index (BMI) and higher blood pressure would have the biggest impact on CIMT.

It was suggested in the study that further research is necessary to determine whether the build-up of artery thickness would decrease if obese children undertake weight loss and exercise.

The researchers believe that something could be done to help those obese children, as the buildup in the vessels was found not hardened and calcified. If the vessel walls and blood flow in adults could be improved through medical treatment presently available, it is highly possible that health experts could come up with some solutions to help obese children even more in the prevention of heart disease and stroke.
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