Test predicts teen risk factor for cardiovascular disease

The test is based on measures of metabolic syndrome.

By Stephen Feller

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., Oct. 6 (UPI) -- A new test can predict teenagers' risk for developing cardiovascular disease based on an assessment for metabolic syndrome, according to a new study.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions -- increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excessive body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels -- that when all present increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. The new test also factors in race and gender based on known risk factors for black teens, as well, to create a score that can be used to predict future disease.


"The way that we normally diagnose metabolic syndrome appears to have some racial discrepancies where African-American individuals are not diagnosed with metabolic syndrome at a very high rate, and yet they are at very high risk for developing type 2 diabetes and CVD," said Dr. Mark DeBoer, a researcher in the department of pediatrics at the University of Virginia, in a press release.

The researchers reviewed data collected on 629 people who participated in the Cincinnati Clinic of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Lipids Research Clinic between 1973 and 1976 and the Princeton Follow-up Study between 1998 and 2003, as well as 354 participants in the Princeton Health Update between 2010 and 2014. The three individual studies measured BMI, systolic blood pressure, fasting triglycerides, HDL cholesterol and fasting glucose at the average ages of 12.9, 38.4, and 49.6.


Researchers found metabolic severity scores for children at the beginning of the study were linked to the development of cardiovascular disease and diabetes as adults.

"The current study was targeted at using that metabolic syndrome severity score on data from individuals who were children in the '70s to see if it correlated with their risk on developing CVD and type 2 diabetes later in life, and we found that there was a high correlation between the metabolic severity score for those children and for their later development of cardiovascular disease and diabetes," DeBoer said.

"We are hopeful that this score can be used to assess the baseline risk for adolescents regarding metabolic syndrome and their risk for future disease and use it as a motivator for individuals to try to change their risk so that they may have a healthier diet, engage in more physical activity or get medication to reduce their metabolic syndrome severity and their future risk for disease."

The study is published in Diabetologia.

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