New research suggests that early signs of cardiovascular disease, which can lead to a build-up or furring of the arteries - the leading cause of heart attacks, may be detectable in children as young as five.
Genetics have previously shown that there may be a familial risk of developing heart disease. But scientists affiliated with the University of Toronto have now revealed a “statistically significant association” between low levels of vitamin D, produced naturally following exposure to the sun, and high levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol which is often associated with unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking or the over-consumption of meat and dairy produce.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), heart disease, which normally only affects adults, kills an estimated 7.4 million people a year worldwide.
Heart disease occurs when LDL collects in the coronary arteries, causing them to harden and narrow, restricting blood-flow, creating blood clots and triggering potential organ damage, heart attacks and strokes.
High-density lipoproteins (HDL), known as ‘good’ cholesterol carry excess fat back to the liver where it is processed and excreted. The more HDL you have, the lower your risk of developing heart disease.
Researchers studied the blood samples of 1,961 children aged between one and five and adjusted the results based on Body Mass Index (BMI), consumption of cow’s milk and level of physical activity. They found that low levels of vitamin D and high levels of LDL were the most significant factors in predicting future cardiovascular disease.
Dr Jonathan Maguire, a Toronto-based paediatrician, said, “Maybe the factors that lead to cardiovascular disease start in early childhood.
“If vitamin D is associated with cholesterol in early childhood, this may provide an opportunity for early life interventions to reduce cardiovascular risk.”
Early intervention in reducing a patient’s cholesterol level can prevent heart attacks in the future. As with so many diseases, early diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease can reduce the likelihood of a person requiring potentially more invasive and costly treatment in later life. Altering a person’s lifestyle at a younger age is likely to result in long- term cost savings for the NHS.
Having worked with clients who have suffered cardiovascular failure which could have been diagnosed earlier preventing the need for radical surgery, or in some tragic cases, death – I believe this would be a welcome step forward in the prevention and reversing of cardiovascular disease.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers help people who have suffered from delayed or wrong diagnosis of diseases such as cardiovascular disease due To Medical Negligence.
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