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AHA: Subclinical Changes in Kids with Heart Risk Factors

Findings suggest primary prevention important in patients under age 18

MONDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- A systematic overview of studies suggests that children with cardiovascular risk factors have signs of subclinical atherosclerosis, including an increase in carotid artery intima-media thickness and flow-mediated dilation dysfunction, according to a report presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions in Chicago.

Sanaz Piran, M.D., of McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, and colleagues reviewed 26 studies including 3,630 children aged 5 to 18. In all the studies, healthy controls were compared to children with cardiovascular risk factors using measurement of carotid artery intima-media thickness and brachial or femoral flow-mediated dilation.

On average, children with cardiovascular risk factors had a carotid intima-media thickness that was 8.7 percent higher than healthy children and a flow-mediated dilation that was 37 percent lower.

"If they are obese, then involve them in exercise programs. If there's a history of diabetes, then have more tight sugar control, and if they have a history of high cholesterol, then treat the high cholesterol," said Piran. More study is needed to confirm that such interventions do reduce life-long cardiovascular risk, and to determine the normal values for flow-mediated dilation and carotid artery thickness in children, she said. "We don't have that at the present time."


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