Cardiovascular disease in childhood: the role of obesity
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- Herouvi, D., Karanasios, E., Karayianni, C. et al. Eur J Pediatr (2013) 172: 721. doi:10.1007/s00431-013-1932-8
In recent years, childhood obesity is becoming an epidemic health problem. It is now evident from many studies that childhood obesity is correlated with adult excess weight status and the development of risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in adulthood, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, and metabolic syndrome. The exposure to obesity and to the above risk factors during childhood subsequently lead to atherosclerotic development, such as altered vascular structure and function, although the mechanisms are still unclear. Several non-invasive, and thus easy-to-obtain measures of arterial structure and function, have been shown to be clinically useful in providing information about vasculature early in the course of atherosclerosis, including measurement of endothelial function, carotid intima media thickness, and arterial stiffness. The early detection of cardiovascular abnormalities is essential because the control of the atherogenic process is more effective during its early stages. The present review focuses on the cardiovascular consequences of obesity, on the mechanisms and the methods of measurement of endothelial dysfunction in obese children and adolescents, and on the ways of intervention for the improvement of vascular health.