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Identifying Heart Disease Early

A new study shows young adults who have poor functioning of a key heart measure may be more likely to develop deadly blockages in their arteries.//

The researchers looked specifically at how the functioning of the inner layer of blood vessels in the arteries, called endothelial functioning, affects the development of artery blockage, or atherosclerosis. More than 2,000 people were followed from childhood. Over the 21 years of the study, researchers kept track of traditional risk factors for heart disease among the group including being overweight or smoking cigarettes. At the end of the study, when the participants ranged in age from 24 to 39, researchers used standard tests to measure the level of blockage and endothelial functioning in each individual.

Results show people with enhanced functioning were significantly less likely to have blockages when compared to those with impaired functioning. Childhood risk factors for heart disease, however, were only associated with impaired functioning, not with enhanced functioning. Thus researchers say assessing the inner layer of blood vessels could serve as an early way to identify people at risk for heart disease.

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