Study Finds Association Between Heart Disease And Unhealthy Adolescence
factors for adult coronary heart disease are associated with unhealthy
lifestyles from the teen years, according to researchers at the
Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio.
probably eliminate 90 percent of heart attacks if children were eating
right and getting enough exercise from the start, rather than waiting
to treat them for diseases that show up decades later as a result of
unhealthy habits, said Dr. Henry C. McGill Jr., senior scientist
emeritus at the foundation.
Pathobiological Determinants of Atherosclerosis in Youth (PDAY) study,
McGill and research scientists from 13 other institutions across the
country have been studying risk factors for adult coronary heart
disease (lipoproteins, blood pressure, blood glucose, smoking, obesity)
in young people since 1987. They collected tissue and data from about
3,000 young persons 15 through 34 years of age – all of whom had
died of accidents, homicide or suicide and were autopsied in forensic
laboratories – and measured atherosclerosis (hardening of the
we’ve found through literally decades of study is that the
beginning of atherosclerosis can be detected in children as young as 12
years old. They may be in their 40s or 50s or 60s when they experience
a heart attack, but the build-up of deposits in the artery walls began
many years earlier, when they were kids,” McGill said.
show conclusively that the risk factors for adult coronary heart
disease are associated with the progression of atherosclerosis
beginning in the teen years, an association is so strong a McGill
asserts that prevention of adult coronary heart disease should begin
with control of risk factors beginning in adolescence.
the two common risk factors that almost anyone can do something about
are smoking and obesity, both of which fall on the responsibility of
you’re a parent, don’t smoke. Eat healthy. Exercise. Set
the right example. If you’re eating a lot of junk food, smoking
and letting yourself become overweight, you’re teaching your kids
to do the same thing. But it doesn’t cost a thing to change those
For more information on the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, visit www.sfbr.org.