The Early Origins of Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis has a long pre-clinical phase with development of pathological changes in arteries of children and young adults decades before overt clinical manifestations of disease. Nutritional factors in both infancy and childhood have been shown to be important in this process and affect lifetime cardiovascular disease risk. Breast-feeding in particular is associated with benefits for long-term cardiovascular risk factors possibly as a consequence of a slower pattern of growth in breast-fed compared to formula-fed infants. In fact, the benefits of slower growth for later health and longevity, appears to be a fundamental biological phenomenon conserved across diverse animal species. The nutritional programming of atherosclerosis could therefore be regarded as a specific example of programming of human ageing as seen previously in programming of lifespan and telomere length in animals. The critical window for these effects is unknown, but evidence is accumulating for programming effects of growth from very early in infancy.
KeywordsBreast-feeding cardiovascular disease growth acceleration programming
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- British Heart Foundation (2004). Compendium of annual statistics.; www.heartstats.org
- Charakida M, Donald A, Singhal A, Halcox J, Ness A, Davey Smith G, Deanfield J (2006). Accelerated early postnatal growth is associated with increased blood pressure and body mass index in childhood. Circulation 114 (Suppl): 358a.Google Scholar
- Dubos R, Savage D, Schaedler R (1966). Biological Freudianism: lasting effects of early environmental influences. Paediatrics 38: 789–800. Reprinted in Int J Epidemiol 2005; 34: 5–12.Google Scholar
- Falkstedt D, Hemmingsson T, Rasmussen F, Lundberg I (2007). Body mass index in late adolescence and its association with coronary heart disease and stroke in middle age among Swedish men. Int J Obes 31: 777–783.Google Scholar
- Osborne GR (1963). The incubation period of coronary thrombosis. Butterworths, London.Google Scholar