Diabetic Teens Show Eearly Signs of Artery Trouble

Teenagers with type 2 diabetes are likely to have blood vessels that resemble those of someone decades older, a small study suggests.

The study, of 62 teenagers with and without type 2 diabetes, found that diabetic teens had greater stiffness in their arteries - comparable to that seen in middle-aged adults. What's more, teenagers who were obese but not diabetic also had more rigid arteries than their normal-weight peers.

"I think what we're seeing are the very early functional changes in the arteries," explained Arslanian, a pediatric endocrinologist at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Type 2 diabetes arises when the body can no longer properly use the hormone insulin, which regulates blood sugar. It is closely linked to obesity, and was once seen almost exclusively in middle-aged and older adults. But with the sharp increase in childhood obesity in the U.S., more and more children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

As people age, the arteries normally lose some of their elasticity, making them less responsive to changes in blood flow. The fact that teenagers in this study showed arterial stiffness similar to that of someone far older is "worrisome," Arslanian said.

Future studies, she noted, will need to examine whether weight loss -- a cornerstone of type 2 diabetes management -- can reverse arterial stiffness in diabetic and obese teens.

SOURCE: Diabetes Care, May 2005.

Now we know that a poor diet and no exercise will predispose us to: overweight/obesity, possible diabetes and quicken our pace to heart diseases and high blood pressure. How much more do we need to move us off of that rock.

God Bless,
Dr. Benzinger