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A groundbreaking study, recently published in JAMA Network Open, has uncovered the significant contributions of both childhood and adulthood cardiovascular risk factors to the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in middle age. The research tracked 10,634 participants from the US, Finland, and Australia from childhood (1970s-1990s) until 2019. The mean age at childhood was 13.3 years, and the mean age for adulthood was 32.3 years.

Conducted by the International Childhood Cardiovascular Cohort (i3C) Consortium, this study emphasises the importance of early-life interventions to mitigate long-term health risks. Building on previous evidence published in the New England Journal of Medicine (Jacobs 2022), it provides new insights into the mechanisms at play.

Titled "Contributions of Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Childhood and Adulthood to CVD in Middle Age: The International Childhood Cardiovascular Cohort Consortium" the study explores the direct and indirect effects of childhood risk factors such as BMI, serum lipids, blood pressure, and smoking on adult cardiovascular health.

Key findings

  • Childhood BMI and LDL-Cholesterol: Identified as particularly influential in childhood, these factors have a substantial direct impact on the development of cardiovascular disease in later life.
  • Tracking Risk Factors: The study differentiates between the immediate effects of childhood risk factors and those mediated through adulthood risk factors.
  • Life-Course Analysis: Provides a detailed exploration of how these risk factors operate at various life stages, including childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

Prof. Terence Dwyer, the lead author, highlights the implications: "Our study suggests that early intervention to address cardiovascular risk factors, especially BMI, is crucial in preventing adult cardiovascular disease. It truly emphasizes the importance of early intervention in childhood to prevent long-term health issues."



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