In young adults, being overweight can already alter the structure and function of the heart and therefore the cardiovascular risk later in life. Results that plead once again for early weight monitoring.
This new study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation is the first to investigate whether a higher body mass index (BMI) leads to adverse effects on the cardiovascular system in young adults. Specifically here, the researchers triangulated the results of three different types of genetic analysis to demonstrate that being overweight can affect cardiovascular measures early in life.
Young overweight: hypertension and hypertrophy of the heart
To support their hypotheses, the researchers used data from several thousand healthy 17-year-olds and 21-year-olds from an ongoing national study of children born in the 1990s (the AVON Study). among the 14,500 families in the Bristol area, UK. The results suggest that a higher BMI:
- increases systolic and diastolic blood pressure
- causes left ventricular hypertrophy
- is accompanied by thickening of the walls of blood vessels
Thickening of the vessel walls is widely considered the first sign of atherosclerosis. However, these results suggest that higher BMI also leads to changes in the heart structure of young adults, which may precede the observed changes in blood vessels, said Kaitlin Wade, lead author of the study. Researchers now plan to investigate the relationship between overweight and other possible disease mechanisms, including links to the gut microbiota.