The Canadian Cardiovascular Congress has found two serious trends: a drastic increase in heart disease; and evidence of premature hardening of the arteries in obese children. The first trend coincides with the country’s ageing population. While this is concerning, the second trend is deeply disturbing. The symptoms seen in children are normally only seeing in ageing adults.
The rate of obesity in children has tripled in the last 25 years. In Canada, about 25% of children aged 2-17 are overweight, a figure that increases to 29% among teens aged 12-17.
Kevin Harris, one of the delegates at the Congress, said: “We often see congenital heart disease in children, but to see acquired heart disease is unusual.” Mr. Harris warns that the heart of the average overweight 13-year old is changing in a very negative way.
Mr. Harris conducted a study on 63 obese children, whose body mass indexes were 33 and who weight approximately 25 kilograms more than normal. Using ultrasound machines to measure the speed of blood flowing through the aorta, the researchers found their aortas to be impaired. This symptom is associated with heart attacks, strokes and early death in adults.
Other measures of heart health—blood pressure and lipid and cholesterol levels—were found to be normal.
Based on the findings, Mr. Harris maintains that it is still unclear how obesity will affect health outcomes in children. More conclusive information can be drawn from correlations between these changes in children and their health as adults.