Purpose of review
The present article reviews the importance of classical and novel risk factors
that present in childhood
, track into adult life and contribute to arterial disease. The value of noninvasive techniques
that can assist in characterization of preclinical atherosclerotic changes as intermediate phenotypes is also discussed.
Noninvasive functional and structural techniques are now available and provide the opportunity to characterize early arterial disease long before cardiovascular complications present. By using these techniques, it has been possible to quantify the impact of conventional and novel cardiovascular risk factors
seen in childhood
on the development of preclinical atherosclerotic changes. Scientific interest has recently widened to include not only study of mechanisms and biomarkers of injury but also mechanisms that promote vascular repair. In this new field, characterization of endothelial progenitor cells has presented new opportunities for cardiovascular research.
Atherosclerosis begins in early life. Primary prevention strategies for adult cardiovascular disease beginning in childhood
have great potential as the disease process is most reversible at this stage. Several guidelines have recently been published for screening and implementation of appropriate therapeutic choices in early life.