Background: Cardiovascular risk factors are known to persist over time and to cluster both in childhood and adulthood. Less is known about the persistence of clustering of multiple cardiovascular risk factors comprising adverse levels of systolic blood pressure, the ratio of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and plasma insulin from childhood to young adulthood.
Methods: In a community study of cardiovascular risk, 1176 individuals (52% female, 44% black) aged 5 through 17 years at baseline were followed up for 8 years.
Results: Calculated as sum of the race-, sex-, and age-specific rankings of systolic blood pressure, insulin level, and total to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio, the multiple risk index was shown to track in all four race-sex groups (year 1 vs year 8 correlations, .54 to .67). The magnitude of the overall multiple risk index tracking correlation (r = .64) was significantly stronger than that noted for individual risk factors (r = .34 to .57). Among subjects who were initially in the highest quintile of the multiple risk index, 61% remained there 8 years later. Tracking of the multiple risk index increased progressively with age and ponderal index (weight/[height3]). In a step-wise regression analysis, baseline multiple risk index score, baseline ponderal index, change in ponderal index, and change in height were predictive of the multiple risk index score on follow-up. These predictors explained 45% to 60% of the variability in multiple risk index scores among the race-sex groups.
Conclusions: The persistence of multiple cardiovascular risk clustering from childhood to adulthood and the impact of obesity in this regard point to the need for preventive measures aimed at developing healthy lifestyles early in life.