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Obese and Diabetic Youth Have Carotid Abnormalities

Vascular changes point to increased risk of stroke and myocardial infarction as adults

WEDNESDAY, May 27 (HealthDay News) -- Young people who are obese or who have type 2 diabetes mellitus have abnormalities in the carotid artery that should serve as an alert to increased risk of stroke and myocardial infarction in adulthood, according to a study published online on May 26 in Circulation.

Elaine M. Urbina, M.D., of Cincinnati Children's Hospital and the University of Cincinnati, and colleagues conducted a study of 446 young people aged 10 to 24 years, of whom 182 were lean, 136 were obese, and 128 had type 2 diabetes mellitus. The subjects underwent carotid artery ultrasound and measurement of carotid intima-media thickness.

The risk factors for cardiovascular disease were worse in the type 2 diabetes group versus the obese group and in the obese group versus the lean group, the researchers discovered. Carotid intima-media thickness was greater in the diabetes group than in the other two groups and both the diabetic and obese groups had stiffer carotid arteries than the lean group, the investigators note.

"The abnormalities are only partially explained by traditional cardiovascular risk factors such as age and blood pressure because the presence of obesity or diabetes mellitus contributed independently to carotid structure and function," the authors write. "These findings are particularly disturbing because the prevalence of obesity-related metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes mellitus in youth is increasing across the globe and may lead to a parallel increase in adverse cardiovascular outcomes."

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