Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Artery Plaque In Obese Kids' Similar To Middle-Aged Adults

“‘There's a saying that 'you're as old as your arteries,' meaning that the state of your arteries is more important than your actual age in the evolution of heart disease and stroke,’ said Geetha Raghuveer, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine and cardiologist at Children's Mercy Hospital. ‘We found that the state of the arteries in these children is more typical of a 45-year-old than of someone their own age.’ Researchers used ultrasound to measure the thickness of the inner walls of the neck (carotid) arteries that supply blood to the brain. Increasing carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT) indicates the fatty buildup of plaque within arteries feeding the heart muscle and the brain, which can lead to heart attack or stroke. The children's ‘vascular age’ - the age at which the level of thickening would be normal for their gender and race - was about 30 years older than their actual age, Raghuveer said. The children were deemed at high risk for future heart disease because of obesity, abnormal cholesterol, and/or a family history of early heart disease. ‘Vascular age was advanced the furthest in the children with obesity and high triglyceride levels, so the combination of obesity and high triglycerides should be a red flag to the doctor that a child is at high risk of heart disease,’ Raghuveer said. Further studies are needed to determine whether artery build-up will decrease if children lose weight, exercise, or are treated for abnormal lipids. Some studies have shown that CIMT can be reduced when children at extremely high risk are treated with cholesterol-lowering statin medications, and that exercise can improve blood vessel function in children with a high BMI.”

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