Cardiovascular disease risk factors and atherosclerosis in children and adolescents

Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2001 Nov;3(6):479-85. doi: 10.1007/s11883-001-0038-3.


As more is learned about the natural history of the development of atherosclerosis, it is clear that the process that results in morbidity and mortality in adults has its origins in childhood and adolescence. It is also clear that the traditional risk factors, such as hypertension and dyslipidemia, are important in the early stages of the process. It appears that the prevalence and severity of obesity are increasing in children and adolescents in the United States. This trend is associated with increasing blood pressure and the occurrence of type 2 diabetes mellitus in young individuals. These trends may result in increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality as these overweight pediatric patients become obese adults. Intervention and prevention strategies should be directed at the pediatric population as a whole, as well as at higher-risk individuals. For the latter, it will be necessary to identify those at highest risk. Both nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic approaches may be necessary for treatment of pediatric patients with hyperlipidemia and hypertension. Studies are needed that evaluate the longer-term impact of intervention on cardiovascular risk factors in young patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Arteriosclerosis / epidemiology
  • Arteriosclerosis / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / complications*
  • Hyperlipidemias / epidemiology
  • Hypertension / complications*
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / complications*
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / epidemiology
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • United States / epidemiology