A multicenter cooperative study, Pathobiological Determinants of Atherosclerosis in Youth, examined the relation of the risk factors for adult coronary artery disease to atherosclerosis in nearly 3,000 persons, aged 15- 34 years, who died from accidents, homicides, and suicides and were autopsied in forensic laboratories. Very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) plus low- density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels were positively, and high- density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels were negatively, associated with both fatty streaks and raised lesions in the aorta and right coronary artery, particularly after age 25. Elevated glycohemoglobin levels were associated with raised lesions throughout the 15-34-year age span. Body mass index was associated with both fatty streaks and raised lesions of the right coronary artery in men but not in women. Smoking was associated with a 3-fold increase in raised lesions of the abdominal aorta in the 25-34-year age group. Women lagged after men in the extent of raised lesions in the right coronary artery by about 5 years, but the effects of risk factors in women, except for adiposity, were similar to those in men. The risk factors for adult coronary artery disease accelerate atherogenesis in the teenage years and their effects are amplified in young adulthood, 20-30 years before coronary artery disease becomes clinically manifest. Long-range prevention of adult coronary artery disease will require control of the risk factors early in life.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine