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Changes in eye's vessels may predict cardiovascular disease
Changes in eye

July 6, 2007 (Insidermedicine) According to a report published in the International Journal of Obesity, childhood obesity is associated with small structural changes in the eye’s blood vessels. It is believed that similar changes can occur in the heart, increasing the risk of cardiac disease later in life.

Obesity in children and adolescents is a serious issue with many health and social consequences that often continue into adulthood. It is estimated that about 15% of adolescents and children are obese, and the increase in prevalence over the last two decades is dramatic. People who are obese are at an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, stroke, and cancer, and it is estimated that 300,000 Americans die from illness associated with obesity each year.

In the present study, researchers studied more than 1,600 six-year-old children to examine the relationship between their Body Mass Index, or BMI, and changes in the diameter of arteries and veins. Both these measurements are known to be frequently altered in adults with high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems.

They found that greater BMI, weight, and body surface are associated with wider veins in the eye’s retina, while greater BMI and larger waist circumference are linked to narrow retinal arteries.

While it is not yet known why greater BMI causes these vascular changes, it is thought that blood vessels may widen to accommodate the increased blood flow in people who are overweight. However this theory does not explain why the retina’s arteries would be narrowed.

These findings suggest that small changes in blood vessels associated with increased weight occur before the development of other cardiovascular problems. More research is needed, however, to determine whether these changes can accurately predict the risk of cardiovascular disease later in life.

Reporting for Insidermedicine, I’m Dr. Susan Sharma.