November 18, 2011 By Kalen Smith
In their annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found teenagers may be at greater risk of developing heart disease than previously thought. The study relied on data collected from 5,450 children between the ages of 12 and 19. The study focused on key factors relevant to cardiovascular health, including diet, exercise, body mass index, cholesterol, smoking, blood pressure and glucose levels.
Results of the Study
The study made a few concerning revelations. This concerns were reported before the heart association at the annual scientific meeting that it held on Wednesday. The heart association is conducting a health initiative aimed at getting 20% of all American adults within ideal characteristics of all seven of the AMA’s criterion.
Diet was the biggest factor that could increase the likelihood of heart disease among teenagers. Not a single child in the study met the standards set by the American Health Association. Even without taking diet into consideration, very few children perfectly met the standards of the other six criteria. In fact, only 16.4% of males and 11.3% of females satisfied these requirements.
Opinions of the Study
Donald Lloyd-Jones is the head of the preventive medicine unit at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and holds a masters degree in epidemiology. As the primary author of the study, Lloyd-Jones stated that almost everyone is born with perfect cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, that health deteriorates quickly, particularly when people make life decisions that involve eating incorrectly, smoking or failing to exercise enough.
Veronique Roger is the head of the health sciences research center at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Roger found the results of the study to be particularly worrisome.
Although heart attacks usually strike later in life, they are the result of a progression of cardiovascular diseases that begin in childhood. Identifying these conditions early will help deter heart attacks later in life.
Lloyd-Jones and the other researchers conducted one of the most comprehensive studies on the cardiovascular health of teenagers. Previous studies have generally focused on a single factor. However, the study results of the study were somewhat subjective, as it was centered around the guidelines of the American Heart Association and the findings may have been different if the standards of another organization were used. Also, there are a few phenomenon that are not clearly understood. For example, blood sugar levels and cholesterol can increase significantly during puberty and it is difficult to say how those results would influence the study.