Arteries in children of premature heart-attack victims show stiffening, thickening at an early age

September 19, 2000

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Researchers can see the future in the blood vessels of children with a parent who has had a premature heart attack and the picture is not pretty.

A study in this week's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine reports that ultrasound images showed structural and functional abnormalities known to lead to atherosclerosis in children as young as 6 years.

"The parent's MI was already reflected in the kids," said Maurizio Trevisan, M.D., senior author on the study and professor and chair in the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University at Buffalo.

Results showed that participants with a parent who had a heart attack before the age of 60 had vessel layers that were 11 percent thicker, and their vessels were 55 percent less reactive, than blood vessels in children with no parental history of heart attack.

"This was not a measurement of clinical disease," Trevisan said. "These were noninvasive direct measurements of vessel structure and function. Our findings showed thickening in the interior layers of the carotid artery, and a malfunction of the endothelium, the lining of the vessel. Both these abnormalities are indicators of 'pre-clinical disease,' disease that doesn't yet have symptoms."

It has been known for some time that persons with a parental history of premature coronary disease are themselves at high risk. This research set out to determine if it was possible to see structural and functional changes in the arteries of these persons at an early age.

The study involved recruitment of children and young adults with and without parental history of myocardial infarction, and was conducted by Trevisan and colleagues in Naples, Italy.

Forty healthy subjects between the ages of 6 and 30 years with a parental history of premature heart attack were compared with 40 persons with no family history of heart disease, matched for age and gender.

Researchers took blood-pressure readings, fasting blood samples, high-resolution ultrasound images and a survey of lifestyle habits and family history of coronary artery disease of all participants.

Ultrasound images were recorded on videotape and were analyzed by one expert reader who was unaware of the participants' family histories.

Results showed no significant differences between the two groups in the traditional measures of heart disease risk: blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides and smoking. The participants with a parental history of heart disease had a worse blood lipid profile than those without such a history.

Analysis of the ultrasound images showed that offspring of coronary patients had decreased artery reactivity, assessed by measuring blood flow in the arm before and after using a blood-pressure cuff. Blood flow increases after the cuff is deflated in healthy arteries, because the arteries react quickly in an effort to restore normal flow. Decreased reactivity, a risk factor for hardening of the arteries, was noted in offspring of coronary patients but not in controls.

Ultrasound analysis also showed thickened carotid artery walls in offspring of coronary patients, but not in controls.

Trevisan said few studies have looked at the association between family history of heart disease and both blood vessel structure and function. "These results could have important clinical implications," he said, "and need to be further explored so we can better understand the causes and disease path of coronary heart disease, and plan early intervention strategies that may save lives."
-end-
A team of physicians from the A. Cardarelli Hospital, Federico II University and S. Maria di Loreto Hospital in Naples; and M. Gene Bond, Ph.D., director of the Division of Vascular Ultrasound Research at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, were major contributors to this study.




University at Buffalo

Related Heart Disease Articles from Brightsurf:

Cellular pathway of genetic heart disease similar to neurodegenerative disease
Research on a genetic heart disease has uncovered a new and unexpected mechanism for heart failure.

Mechanism linking gum disease to heart disease, other inflammatory conditions discovered
The link between periodontal (gum) disease and other inflammatory conditions such as heart disease and diabetes has long been established, but the mechanism behind that association has, until now, remained a mystery.

New 'atlas' of human heart cells first step toward precision treatments for heart disease
Scientists have for the first time documented all of the different cell types and genes expressed in the healthy human heart, in research published in the journal Nature.

With a heavy heart: How men and women develop heart disease differently
A new study by researchers from McGill University has uncovered that minerals causing aortic heart valve blockage in men and women are different, a discovery that could change how heart disease is diagnosed and treated.

Heart-healthy diets are naturally low in dietary cholesterol and can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
Eating a heart-healthy dietary pattern rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, vegetable oils and nuts, which is also limits salt, red and processed meats, refined-carbohydrates and added sugars, is relatively low in dietary cholesterol and supports healthy levels of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol.

Pacemakers can improve heart function in patients with chemotherapy-induced heart disease
Research has shown that treating chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy with commercially available cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) delivered through a surgically implanted defibrillator or pacemaker can significantly improve patient outcomes.

Arsenic in drinking water may change heart structure raising risk of heart disease
Drinking water that is contaminated with arsenic may lead to thickening of the heart's main pumping chamber in young adults, according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

New health calculator can help predict heart disease risk, estimate heart age
A new online health calculator can help people determine their risk of heart disease, as well as their heart age, accounting for sociodemographic factors such as ethnicity, sense of belonging and education, as well as health status and lifestyle behaviors.

Wide variation in rate of death between VA hospitals for patients with heart disease, heart failure
Death rates for veterans with ischemic heart disease and chronic heart failure varied widely across the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system from 2010 to 2014, which could suggest differences in the quality of cardiovascular health care provided by VA medical centers.

Heart failure: The Alzheimer's disease of the heart?
Similar to how protein clumps build up in the brain in people with some neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, protein clumps appear to accumulate in the diseased hearts of mice and people with heart failure, according to a team led by Johns Hopkins University researchers.

Read More: Heart Disease News and Heart Disease Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.