The primary purpose of this article is to provide a broad overview of the research on the long-term effects of childhood risk factors on cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) during adulthood and to outline recommendations for prevention of CVDs based on evidence-based interventions (EBIs). CVDs are the leading cause of death and a major cause of disability in the United States and globally. Risk factors for CVDs are already identifiable in children and youth, and include both modifiable factors (e.g., unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco smoking), and factors that cannot be changed (e.g., age, heredity, sex). A fundamental issue has been the severity of the long-term effects of childhood risk factors (i.e., behavioral and intermediate risk factors) on subsequent cardiovascular health. It is clear from the empirical evidence that risk factors for CVDs can develop during childhood and adolescence. These risk factors in childhood have been linked to adverse health outcomes, including CVDs, during adulthood. The findings thus far suggest that, in order to be effective and reduce the risk of adulthood CVDs, intervention strategies should begin during childhood. The findings also underscore the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle as early in life as possible.
Keywords: Cardiovascular diseases; biological markers; health behavior; heart diseases; risk factors.