Author(s): Meyer WW, Lind J, Yao AC, Kauffman SL
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Abstract Arterial lesions appear in the human vascular system early in life. In some predisposed arterial segments calcifications of the internal elastic sheets have regularly been demonstrated macroscopically in infancy and early childhood. Atherosclerotic lesions also begin in childhood, and the seeds of their later clinical manifestations are probably sown in infancy. Hyperlipemia, hypertension, and cigarette smoking represent the major risk factors of atherosclerosis and its premature development. Accordingly, the main task of pediatricians is early identification of the risk groups and their appropriate treatment, particularly of children with hyperlipoproteinemia type II and those with family history indicating a premature atherosclerotic event, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus. In most populations, however, elevated serum cholesterol levels are probably not caused by genetically determined metabolic disorders but mainly promoted by environmental factors, such as nutrition. Therefore, establishment of beneficial nutritional habits early in life may prevent the development or at least limit the extent of fatty streaks and their further transformation into fibrous plaques or more advanced atherosclerotic lesions. The education of the community, especially of parents, to the hazards of the cardiovascular risk factors must become an essential part of preventive programs directed to sound cardiovascular health. The wide individual variation of the extent of early lesions, e.g., of fatty streaking in childhood even in most homogeneous population subgroups, points to the existence of still undiscovered risk factors. Cooperative efforts between pediatric pathologists and pediatricians appear, therefore, a necessity for further progress in the evaluation of these factors and for establishing successful preventive programs.
This article was published in Paediatrician
and referenced in Advanced Practices in Nursing