Young people may be more susceptible to the harmful effects of factors that promote atherosclerosis. The cause? According to research carried out at the National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC), these people are more vulnerable to the harmful effects of two of these factors: high cholesterol and blood pressure.
The cause? Researchers don’t know why arteries are more susceptible, but they believe the reason is that the arteries of younger people are more virgin, have been less exposed to aging, and are therefore more susceptible to damage as a result of cholesterol. throughout the blood pressure, while in later stages the artery is somewhat older and therefore is, let’s say, less vulnerable to initial damage due to other risk factors.
These results are published in the ‘Journal of the American College of Cardiology’ and highlight the need for aggressive control of risk factors to begin at an earlier age in life, which is why, the researchers write, they should « change primary prevention strategies.
In an editorial accompanying the study, Charles A. German and Michael D. Shapiro, of the University of Chicago, and Wake Forest University-Winston Salem, highlight the relevance of this research and write that its results are a “call to action to rethink when and how doctors should intervene aggressively to prevent cardiovascular disease.
The authors write that the research expands “our understanding of the natural progression of atherosclerosis, reinforcing the idea that early detection and aggressive modification of risk factors, especially reduction of LDL cholesterol, can alter the course of the disease.” ». All this, they add, leads to change «the paradigm», with early, targeted and aggressive interventions to turn the tide and avoid the imminent tsunami of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases in our aging population.
The fact that atherosclerosis can be reversed is a very relevant finding, but at what age? Borja Ibáñez, coordinator of the study, points out that in some cases in this study, up to 8% of people who already had atheromatous plaques, The disease has completely disappeared when they have modified their lifestyle habits.
Researchers believe that, even from 20 or 25 yearsit is very important to start controlling yourself and have your cholesterol tested and your blood pressure taken.
And how to control it? They propose aggressive control to lower cholesterol levels and control blood pressure in an important way; The lower the levels the better.
This can initially be addressed with lifestyles such as diet, stopping alcohol consumption and reducing salt consumption, and if this is still not achieved, this is when one should move on to pharmacological treatments for both cholesterol and blood pressure. , acknowledges Ibáñez.
For this reason, Valentín Fuster, author of the study, «Early screening for subclinical atherosclerosis and aggressive risk factor control could help alleviate the global burden of cardiovascular disease.».
The paradigm shift to which the authors of the editorial refer goes through a screening for the detection of cholesterol or atheroma plaques in the carotid or femoral arteries which, according to the authors, could help identify those who are developing the disease and who can begin this aggressive management of risk factors that we mentioned.
It is estimated that 30% of people between 40 and 45 years old have atherosclerosis in some arterial segment.