Scientists have found accelerated evidence of heart disease among obese children and teens
By JoNel Aleccia
A glimpse inside the neck arteries of obese children and teens reveals cardiovascular systems more like those of 45-year-olds, researchers said Tuesday.
Scientists using ultrasound imaging detected fatty deposits more typical in middle-aged adults than in children as young as 10, underscoring worries about accelerated risks of heart disease decades earlier than once thought possible.
"There's a saying that you're as old as your arteries," said the study's lead author, Dr. Geetha Raghuveer, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine. "These kids are showing up with arteries that show middle-aged conditions."
In fact, more than half of the 70 youngsters enrolled in the Children's Mercy Hospital study had a "vascular age" about 30 years older than their actual age, putting them at risk for early heart attacks, stroke — and death. The research was presented Tuesday at the American Heart Association's scientific meeting in New Orleans.
That finding might also hold true for many more young people in the United States, where more than 16 percent of kids ages 2 to 19 are considered obese, according to federal statistics.
"It kind of hammers home that the risk might be speeded up," said Dr. Stephen Daniels, chief pediatrician at the Children's Hospital in Denver, who was not associated with the new study. "It does kind of fit with the concept that kids with high cholesterol and other risk factors probably have premature aging factors."
See: Obese Kids Have Middle-Aged Arteries