HealthDay News — Childhood obesity is often accompanied by cardiovascular abnormalities, not just an increased risk later in life, making early detection and prevention programs a priority, researchers suggest.
“Clinical evidence is accumulating to suggest that the cardiovascular damage, once only observed in adults, is also occurring in obese children,” Anita T. Cote, PhD, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and colleagues reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
They performed a literature review to summarize current research on cardiovascular abnormalities in children with obesity and made several recommendations for a comprehensive research program to identify effective prevention techniques.
Independent of other obesity-related comorbid conditions, such as dyslipidemia and insulin resistance, obese children may show early signs of cardiovascular dysfunction such as changes in ventricular mass, dimensions and function; changes in vascular structure and function; and changes in autonomic function, the researchers found.
Among the most alarming findings from clinical studies, obese children:
- Had diastolic and systolic dysfunction at rest and during exercise
- Had significantly greater left atrial and ventricular dimensions than those with healthy BMI
- Had higher levels of epicardial fat
- Had a vascular age similar to that of a 45-year-old adult when risk factors for atherosclerosis were present
Despite this evidence, many of the mechanisms are poorly understood in the absence of longitudinal studies, according to the researchers.
“The cascade of events leading to cardiovascular disease may vary in response to genetic and environmental factors as well as the presence or absence of other comorbidities such as hypertension or dyslipidemia,” they wrote.
They called for more research to determine the effective interventions and therapies for obese children with cardiovascular abnormalities.