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Teens' Lipid Levels Predict Atherosclerosis in Adulthood

Two lipid classification systems predict thickening arteries similarly well

WEDNESDAY, Mar. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescents who have abnormal lipid levels are at higher risk of developing preclinical atherosclerosis as adults, regardless of the lipid cutoffs used by two classification systems, researchers report in the Mar. 10 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Costan G. Magnussen, from the University of Tasmania in Hobart, Australia, and colleagues used data from three prospective studies (in the United States, Finland and Australia) involving 1,711 adolescents, aged 12 to 18 years, to examine which pediatric dyslipidemia classification -- the National Cholesterol Education Program or the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey -- was most effective in predicting high common carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) in young adulthood (29 to 39 years old). Lipid measurements consisted of low- and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

The researchers found that the cutoff points for both classification systems similarly predicted that adolescent dyslipidemia was associated with a significantly higher risk of high IMT (90th percentile or greater) in adulthood (relative risks 1.6 to 2.5). The degree of IMT difference was clinically significant for overweight or obese adolescents with dyslipidemia compared with normal weight adolescents with normal lipid levels (0.08 to 0.11 mm depending on gender). Adolescent dyslipidemia predicted high adult IMT better than changes in dyslipidemia status, the authors report.

"Based on [the authors'] work, it appears that there are clear epidemiologic associations between lipid and lipoprotein levels in the pediatric age range and adult outcomes including lipid levels and carotid IMT," Stephen R. Daniels, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Science Center in Aurora, writes in an accompanying editorial. "It also appears clear that the single set of cut points recommended by the original National Cholesterol Education Program pediatric panel work as well overall as percentile-based cut points."

The Australian study was partially funded by Veolia Environmental Services, Sanitarium, ASICS, and Target.

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