The early lesions of atherosclerosis begin in childhood, and are related to antecedent cardiovascular disease risk factors. Environmental and genetic factors such as diet, obesity, exercise, and certain inherited dyslipidemias influence the progression of such lesions. The identification of youth at risk for atherosclerosis includes an integrated assessment of these predisposing factors. Treatment starts with a diet low in total and saturated fat and cholesterol, the use of water-soluble fiber and plant sterols, weight control, and exercise. Drug therapy, for example, with inhibitors of hydroxymethylglutaryl CoA reductase, bile acid sequestrants, and cholesterol absorption inhibitors, can be considered in those with a positive family history of premature coronary artery disease and a low-density lipoprotein cholesterol above 160 mg/dL, after dietary and hygienic measures. Candidates for drug therapy often include those with familial hypercholesterolemia, familial combined hyperlipidemia, the metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovarian syndrome, type I diabetes, and the nephrotic syndrome. We review the safety and efficacy of dietary and drug therapy, and propose an updated diagnostic and therapeutic algorithm that includes the metabolic syndrome. The early identification and treatment of youth with dyslipidemias is likely to retard the atherosclerotic process.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine