Obesity and Heart Disease in Kids

Posted on 01. Feb, 2010 by in In the News

An obese child’s arteries may be just as clogged as the arteries of a middle-aged adult, finds a recent study. A buildup of plaque in the arteries puts kids at risk for a heart attack or stroke as early as age 30. In the study of 70 mostly obese children ages 6 to 19, researchers used an ultrasound to measure the thickness of the kids’ artery walls in the neck. “We wanted to gauge their vascular age,” says Geetha Raghuveer, MD, MPH, referring to the age at which the level of plaque in the arteries would be normal. In these children, the vascular age was generally 30 years older than their chronological age.

Although the growing research linking obesity with heart disease in children is alarming, Dr. Raghuveer is hopeful. “A lot of these kids’ arteries, even though they are in the early stages of atherosclerosis, are not hardened or calcified, not really advanced.” she says there may be an opportunity to implement lifestyle alterations, including exercise and diet. “Perhaps it may be reversed.”

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