The blood vessels of obese children have stiffness normally seen in much older adults with cardiovascular disease, Dr. Kevin Harris today told the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2010, co-hosted by the Canadian Cardiovascular Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. The clock is ticking and the shape of the 13 year-old-heart is changing – for the worse.
“We were surprised to find that these obese children already have stiff blood vessels,” says Dr. Harris from B.C. Children’s Hospital.”Aortic stiffness is an early indicator of cardiovascular disease in obese children.” He says it is as if the aging process has beenaccelerated in their aorta.
The aorta is the largest artery in the human body. It carries and distributes oxygen-rich blood to all the other arteries and normally acts as a buffer to the pumping action of the heart. Increased stiffness of the aorta is typically associated with aging and is a strong predictor of future cardiac events and mortality in adults.
“The normal aorta has elastic qualities that buffer the flow of blood. When that elasticity is lost, aortic stiffness results – a sign of developing cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Harris told the meeting. “Aortic stiffness is associated with cardiovascular events and early death.”
The mean age of the children in Dr. Harris’s study was 13 years.