Until recently cardiovascular disease is often thought of as a disease that manifests itself during middle age. Researchers and clinicians have begun to realize that the initial signs of cardiovascular disease begin early on in childhood with changes present in both vascular structure and function. This increased recognition has resulted in considerable effort to develop accurate and reliable methods to measure as well as track changes in vascular structure and function applicable to study this process in children and adolescents. Certain genetic abnormalities and chronic diseases, which present or emerge in childhood often result in meaningful changes to vascular structure and function, which aid in our understanding of the vascular disease process. In this review, we will discuss different methods of assessing vascular structure and function, the diseases in childhood associated with decrements and maladaptive changes in the vascular system, and whether modification of lifestyle (ie, weight loss, dietary and/or exercise changes) can affect vascular structure and function in children.
- cardiovascular disease risk factors
- endothelial dysfunction
- intima-media thickness
- ultrasound imaging