Scientists have invented a test that can be administered to teens in order to predict their likelihood of developing heart disease and diabetes.
The diagnostic tool was created by researchers from the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital and West Virginia University’s School of Public Health. The findings were presented in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and in the journal Diabetologia.
Health experts devised the method by taking into account potential risk factors contributing to cardiovascular disease. As doctors point out, most of the elements that are conducive to heart problems are actually preventable, and their impact can be subdued through lifestyle changes.
The only non-modifiable factor is genetics, but the following list of determinants is mostly within the individual’s control: cigarette use, unhealthy eating habits, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, sedentary behavior and hypertension.
Researchers analyzed data from 629 respondents who had taken part in the Cincinnati Clinic of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Lipids Research Clinic between 1973 and 1976, and also in the Princeton Follow-up Study between 1998 and 2003.
Evaluations conducted on 354 subjects from the Princeton Health Update between 2010 and 2014 were also included.
These studies had monitored several health indicators at three life stages, from childhood to middle age. Experts were interested especially in the levels of HDL cholesterol, fasting glucose, systolic blood pressure, fasting triglycerides and body mass index (BMI).
Unhealthy cumulative scores correspond to the metabolic syndrome, which is basically marked by hypertension, high blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and excess fat especially around the midsection.
It was determined that those with a high metabolic severity score were significantly more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, and a connection between this syndrome and diabetes was also identified.
Although prior studies had also suggested that metabolic syndrome may increase the risk of heart disease, this study took research one step further, by quantifying that risk based on its contributing factors.
The score is also much more reliable because it takes into account discrepancies related to sex and ethnicity.
If this ground-breaking test is implemented, medical screenings could help identify adolescents at risk of being affected by heart disease.
This way, beneficial lifestyle changes could be introduced, such as healthy diets, regular physical exercise and medical treatment so as to keep metabolic syndrome under control.
This may diminish the incidence of cardiovascular disease or the overall mortality associated with this condition.
On a yearly basis, around a quarter of the total number of deaths in the United States is caused by heart disease, approximately 610,000 Americans passing away because of such issues.
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