Stiffening of arterial walls associated with metabolic complicationsThe University of Eastern Finland did a study and concluded that children aged between 6 and 8 years experienced metabolic disorders including excess tummy fat, increased blood pressure, low levels of HDL and high levels of triglycerides, glucose and insulin. The researchers said that the metabolic risk factors usually accumulated in obese children. Another study published recently showed that such high levels of accumulation were associated with mild stiffness of artery walls. Besides, boys who had excess belly fat as well as a high blood pressure level were linked to having a reduced dilation of artery after exercising maximally in bicycle test.

The objectives of PANIC study

The researchers did the study by analyzing the relationship of fat metabolism, impaired glucose, blood pressure and overweight to the stiffness of artery wall and dilation capacity of arteries. The study was done on 173 children in good health aged between 6 and 8 years in eastern Finland. This research was a part of the broader Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children study that some researchers in the same university are still carrying out. This PANIC study aims at providing information that is scientifically valuable on the physical activities of the children, nutrition, metabolism, fitness, vascular function, body composition, oral health, learning, pain and sleep alongside other factors that determine the quality of life in a child.

Originally, the study involved a sample group comprising 512 children from Kuopio city. The children were aged between 6 and 8 years of age when baseline examinations were carried out from 2007 to 2009. Children involved in the study underwent through a wide range of measurements related to their health, lifestyle and general well being. In addition to this, the researchers also measured the stiffness of their arterial walls and their artery function as well. The measurements were taken through the technique of pulse contour analysis by measuring arterial waveform by a finger.

The results of the PANIC Study

According to the team of researchers undertaking the PANIC study, reduced dilation of the artery and stiffness of the arterial wall predict atherosclerosis in children. This refers to the process in which arteries become hardened and can result to development of a series of diseases among children. Some of these diseases include the coronary artery disease, lower extremity artery disease, cerebral infarctions and several other vascular diseases. These newly published results have a great scientific significance and they suggest that the metabolic disorders in childhood can lead to mild stiffness of the arteries which impairs vascular health. The results put forward by the researchers emphasized that lifestyle improvement in childhood is very important. This is because changes in lifestyle can help to prevent the serious vascular and metabolic dysfunction which can result to atherosclerotic events and other serious cardiovascular conditions in later life.