Recent research has revealed that arterial stiffness is becoming a leading cause of early heart damage among adolescents. The collaborative study sheds light on the consequences of the condition in younger populations.
The findings, published in Atherosclerosis, show that conditions like left ventricular hypertrophy, can cause premature heart damage in children.
Here, we explore the findings of the recent study, and how we can prevent arterial stiffness in younger patients.
Latest investigation into early heart damage
The recent international study monitored 1,856 adolescents aged 17, for a period of seven years. Various health metrics, including arterial stiffness and signs of heart damage, were evaluated at the beginning and the end of the study.
Over this seven-year period, researchers discovered structural heart damage cases doubled among the young participants. Those exhibiting higher levels of arterial stiffness were found to have a 23%-27% increased risk of worsening structural heart damage.
The study also revealed arterial stiffness inflicted damage by increasing blood pressure and insulin resistance, accounting for 34% and 15% of heart damage respectively. These findings highlight the pivotal role of arterial stiffness in early heart damage, making timely intervention and preventative strategies crucial.
What is arterial stiffness?
Arterial stiffness is a medical term that describes reduced elasticity or flexibility of the arteries. The arteries, that are usually supple and responsive, can become less adaptable to the changing pressures of blood flow.
This condition isn’t just restricted to the elderly. As the recent study shows, even adolescents can be impacted by arterial stiffness. A range of factors can contribute, including unhealthy lifestyle habits like smoking or a sedentary lifestyle, chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and obesity, and, in some cases, genetic predisposition.
The repercussions of stiff arteries are significant. Reduced arterial flexibility can restrict the smooth flow of blood. This in turn makes the heart work overtime to circulate blood throughout the body, potentially increasing the risk of heart-related complications.
It’s crucial to understand arterial stiffness and the long-term implications it can have on your cardiovascular health.
Preventing arterial stiffness
To prevent arterial stiffness, it’s a good idea to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle from a young age. Regular physical activity can help to maintain a healthy weight and keep the heart and arteries in good condition. One study showed that eight weeks of intermittent moderate-intensity aerobic exercises successfully reduced arterial stiffness.
Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and low in saturated fats can also contribute significantly to arterial health. Also, avoiding smoking and drinking, managing stress levels and getting enough quality sleep can all help to reverse arterial stiffness.
Regular cardio health screenings can help in the early detection and management of issues that may contribute to arterial stiffness. This can help to safeguard your heart health in the long term.
If you are concerned about your heart health, schedule a consultation with Dr Konrad Grosser today.