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Chunky Adolescents' Cardiovascular Health Is Headed In Wrong Direction, Experts Say

Date:
May 13, 2007
Source:
Medical College of Georgia
Summary:
Key indicators of cardiovascular health, such as blood pressure and arterial stiffness, are headed in the wrong direction in "chunky" adolescents, researchers say.
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"This is a wakeup call to parents and physicians to pay more attention to children who fall somewhere in the middle because they likely are headed toward being fatter and at increased risk of cardiovascular disease," says Dr. Yanbin Dong, geneticist and cardiologist at the Medical College of Georgia.
Credit: Image courtesy of Medical College of Georgia

Key indicators of cardiovascular health, such as blood pressure and  arterial  stiffness, are headed in the  wrong direction in “chunky” adolescents, researchers say.

Much as their weight falls in between their thinner and heavier peers,  cardiovascular indicators do as well, says Dr. Yanbin Dong, geneticist and  cardiologist at the Medical College of Georgia. “This is a wakeup call to parents and physicians to pay more attention to  children who fall somewhere in the middle because they likely are headed toward  being fatter and at increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. Dong.

“We tend to ignore these people,” says Dr. Dong,  who looked at cardiovascular measures for 972 healthy adolescents with a mean  age of nearly 18. The adolescents  were  part of the Georgia Cardiovascular Twin Study, led by Dr. Frank Treiber, on how  environmental stress impacts cardiovascular health.

About 17 percent of the black and white identical  and fraternal twins had mid-range body mass, which is weight divided by height. “Almost everything was in between,” says Dr. Dong.  For example, the whites had about a 2-mmHg increase in casual and ambulatory  systolic blood pressure (the top number taken when the heart is contracting) as  he looked across the three categories of kids from thinnest to heaviest.

Although the incremental increases don’t guarantee  eventual hypertension, it’s not a good sign, says Dr. Dong. “If you become  hypertensive when you are 42, it doesn’t go up just like that,” he says,  snapping his fingers. “Blood pressure in your adolescence will track to your  adulthood, so it’s likely there will be amplification when you get older.”

In blacks and whites, incremental increases in  blood pressure even showed up at night, when pressures are generally lowest.  Also, the heavier the adolescent, the more sodium secreted in their urine, an  indicator of higher sodium intake. Excessive dietary intake may increase blood  pressure, Dr. Dong notes.

A measure of arterial stiffness in the dorsalis pedis, the artery that  supplies the top of the foot, also found incremental increases in whites. Blacks  with a healthy weight have higher arterial stiffness than their white peers.

Heart rate increases also were fairly dramatic in blacks and whites: one  beat per minute for each category. “Once again, they are young and headed in  the wrong direction,” says Dr. Dong.

There also was a linear increase in the size of the pumping chamber of the  heart – an indicator it’s working harder – from the thinnest to heaviest  adolescents.

“Youth at risk of overweight compared with healthy-weight youth appear to  have increased cardiovascular risks,” the researchers write. “Although there is  a continuum of cardiovascular risk across all levels of (body mass index), our  data suggest that the at-risk-of-overweight status already has clinical  implications in youth.”

Co-authors include Dr. Weili Yan, postdoctoral fellow in biostatistics; Dr.  Dongliang Ge, former postdoctoral fellow in genetic epidemiology; Dr. Haidong  Zhu, molecular geneticist; Dr. Gregory Harshfield, hypertension researcher and  director of the Georgia Prevention Institute; Dr. Gaston Kapuku, cardiologist;  Dr. Harold Snieder, genetic epidemiologist; and Dr. Treiber, clinical child  psychologist and MCG vice president for research.

Dr. Dong presents his findings May 10 during the Inter-American Society of  Hypertension and the Consortium for Southeastern Hypertension Control  Scientific Sessions in Miami.

Dr. Dong’s research is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the  American Heart Association.


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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Medical College of Georgia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Medical College of Georgia. "Chunky Adolescents' Cardiovascular Health Is Headed In Wrong Direction, Experts Say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 May 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070510093356.htm>.
Medical College of Georgia. (2007, May 13). Chunky Adolescents' Cardiovascular Health Is Headed In Wrong Direction, Experts Say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070510093356.htm
Medical College of Georgia. "Chunky Adolescents' Cardiovascular Health Is Headed In Wrong Direction, Experts Say." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070510093356.htm (accessed August 2, 2015).

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