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n South African Medical Journal - The importance of carotid artery stiffness and increased intima-media thickness in obese children : research
Background. Atherosclerosis that starts in childhood invariably advances during adulthood.
Aim. We aimed to study the effect of obesity on main carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT) and arterial stiffness.
Material and methods. A total of 78 children were studied from October 2010 to February 2011. They were divided into obese (n=42, group 1) and normal (n=36, group 2). All children were subjected to physical examination, routine biochemical and haematological analysis, carotid ultrasonography and echocardiographic measurements. A detailed medical history was obtained. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated by dividing participants' weight in kilograms by the square of their height in metres. Stiffness index β was calculated using blood pressure and diameter of the systolic and diastolic artery. Intima-media thickness was also measured.
Results. The mean age of the obese and normal (control) groups was 10.12±2.12 years and 9.78±1.78 years, respectively. Weight, BMI, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure values were significantly higher in the obese group (all p<0.001). In terms of arterial stiffness and CIMT measurements, all parameters were higher in the obese group than the control (p<0.001). There was a relationship between the degree of obesity and CIMT or stiffness index β. In addition, dilatation and hypertrophy levels in the left ventricle were higher in obese children.
Conclusions. Obese children with risk factors for multiple atherosclerosis could have increased CIMT dimensions and, consequently, should be screened for these risks. Ultrasonographic CIMT and arterial stiffness measurements can detect vascular damage at an early stage of development in children with cardiovascular risk factors.
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