Parents, you may want to do something about your kids' extra kilos as a recent study has found that high blood pressure in overweight children can stiffen their arteries in adolescence.
The study shows that cardiovascular risk factors, such as overweight, high blood pressure, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and insulin resistance, are associated with arterial distensibility in adolescence.
Arterial distensibility decreases with age, i.e. arteries stiffen. Arterial stiffness is associated with the endpoints of cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke, heart attack and cardiac death.
The stiffness of arteries influences how hard the heart has to work to pump blood through the body.
The results of the study can be utilised by concentrating the primordial prevention of cardiovascular diseases more actively on children and youth when trying to improve cardiovascular health throughout life.
The longitudinal study on children and adolescents conducted by the Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Turku, Finland, is unique worldwide.
Cardiovascular risk factors, such high blood pressure, affect arterial stiffness in adulthood. The association of these risk factors with arterial elasticity from childhood to early adulthood has not been previously studied.
The team at the University of Turku in Finland initially followed over 1,000 children for 27 years.
Their cardiovascular risk factors have been repeatedly measured from childhood to adulthood.
The elasticity of the research subjects' arteries was measured with ultrasonography in the age of 11-19.
The findings revealed that overweight, high blood pressure, LDL cholesterol and insulin resistance measured in childhood and adolescence are linked with arterial distensibility already at young age.
"Overweight, high blood pressure and LDL cholesterol can be influenced, for example, by promoting a healthy way of life," said Doctoral Candidate Hanna Mikola.