Disease Proof

Heart Risks in Youth



According to new research, heart disease risk begins developing in men during adolescence. Ed Edelson HealthDay News reports:
The study of the 507 Minneapolis school children found that between the ages of 11 and 19, levels of triglycerides, a type of blood fat associated with cardiovascular disease, increased in the boys and dropped in the girls. Levels of HDL cholesterol, the "good" kind that helps keep arteries clear, went down in boys but rose in girls.

Blood pressure increased in both, but significantly more in boys. And insulin resistance, a marker of cardiovascular risk, which was lower in boys at age 11, rose until the 19-year-old men were more resistant than the women…

…A recent study found that more than a third of children and adolescents in the United States are overweight or obese.

The study points toward the importance of hormonal factors in cardiovascular disease risk, Dr. Antoinette Moran, chief of pediatric endocrinology and diabetes at the University of Minnesota Children's Hospital explained. "We knew that women had extra protection from cardiovascular disease, and we knew it disappeared after menopause," she said. "This adds further weight to the role of hormones by looking at the other end of the age spectrum."
Not exactly new news, being obese and eating poorly is a bad idea—at any age! Here Dr. Fuhrman talks about heart risk in youth:
As a result of the heart-unfriendly diet, blood vessel damage begins early. Not only does the development of coronary atherosclerosis develop in childhood, but earlier development of atherosclerosis and higher serum cholesterol levels in childhood result in a significantly higher risk of premature sudden death relatively early in life. Sometimes the effects of childhood dietary abuses can be seen relatively early, with premature death or a heart attack at a young age.


When we study people who died young of coronary artery disease, we find that the highest risk of an earlier death occurs in those who were above average weight in childhood.1 Findings from the famous Bogalusa Heart Study show that a high saturated fat intake early in life is strongly predictive of later heart disease burden and the higher blood pressure in childhood and adolescence is powerfully predictive of cardiovascular death in adulthood.2
And the drugs we pump kids full of aren’t doing them any favors either. It seems there might be heart risk in ADHD drugs. From The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Millions of children taking drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder should be checked for heart problems, the American Heart Association said yesterday, a recommendation that also might identify more youngsters with cardiac disorders.


Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta, and other stimulants commonly prescribed to treat ADHD can increase blood pressure and heart rate. While not a problem for the vast majority of patients, they can lead to life-threatening conditions and even sudden cardiac death in those with heart conditions.

"We want all children to have safe access to these medications," said Victoria L. Vetter, a pediatric cardiologist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and lead author of the recommendations published today in Circulation, the heart association journal.

For the drugs to be truly safe, Vetter said in an interview, children with heart problems must be identified.

The committee of experts nevertheless emphasized that children on ADHD drugs should not stop. The recommendations are meant to prompt doctors to more carefully screen the heart health of young patients, Vetter said - "not freak out parents."
ADHD is a whole other issue. Here’s a little bit of Dr. Fuhrman on ADHD drugs. Take a look:
These medications with their reported adverse effects and potential dangers were simply unnecessary for so many children whom I have seen as patients. I have witnessed consistently positive results when these children followed my comprehensive program of nutritional excellence. The scientific studies lending support to a comprehensive nutritional approach to treating ADHD are ignored by physicians, and drugs are generally the only method offered.


Most new cases of ADHD are of the inattentive subtype. Inattentive ADHD are the children who have a short attention span, are easily distracted, and can appear to be a brain fog; they do not have hyperactivity. Research on the use of psychostimulants in these patients has shown high rate of nonresponders, and although medications showed a short-term decrease in symptoms, they did not improve grade point averages.1
Now, I’m not far seer, but, I’d be willing to bet A LOT of these problems could be avoided by upgrading the quality of kids’ diets—what do you think?
1. Eriksson JG, Forsen T, Tuomilehto J, et al. Catch-up growth in childhood and death from coronary heart disease: longitudinal study. BMJ 1999;318(7181):427-431.

2. Berenson GS, Srinivasan SR, Nicklas TA. Atherosclerosis: a nutritional disease of childhood. Bogalusa Heart Study. AM J Cardiol 1998;82(10B):22T-29T. Berenson GS. Childhood risk factors predict adult risk associated with subclinical cardiovascular disease. The Bolgulusa Heart Study. Am J Cardiol 2002;90(10C):3L-7L. Vos LE, Orien A, Uiterwaal C, et al. Adolescent blood pressure and blood pressure tracking into young adulthood are related to subclinical atherosclerosis: the atherosclerosis risk in young adults (ARYA) study. Am J Hypertens 2003 16(7):549-555.

3. McCormick LH. ADHD treatment and academic performance: A case series. J Family Practice 2003; 52(8):620-624. Cantwell DP, Baker L. Attention deficit disorder with and without hyperactivity; a review and comparison of matched groups. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 1992;31:432-438. Barkley RA, DuPaul GJ, McMurray MB. Attention deficit disorder with and without hyperactivity: clinical response to three dose levels of methylphendiate. Pediatrics 1991;87:519-531. Safer DJ. Major treatment consideration for attention hyperactivity disorder. Curr Probl Pediatr 1995;25:137-143.
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