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Growth in teen risk factors may promote heart disease testing

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

Teenagers may wish to monitor their risk for heart disease and stroke through diagnostic testing after a recent study revealed that about 20 percent of 14- and 15-year-olds experience high blood pressure.

The study, presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress this week, examined the heart health of more than 20,000 teens aged 14 to 15, collecting data on high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity, the Nursing Times reports.

When the study began in 2002, the researchers found that 17 percent of the teens had at least one cardiovascular risk factor - 19 percent with high blood pressure, 11 percent with obesity and 9 percent with high cholesterol.

Six years later, the number of teens with risk factors rose to 21 percent, with high cholesterol rising to 16 percent and obesity rising to 13 percent.

Brian McCrindle, a cardiologist and the study's lead author called the figures "alarmingly high" and told the news source, "When you have a healthy looking kid in front of you, it's easy to miss the invisible time bomb waiting to go off."

Heart and Stroke Foundation representative Beth Abramson said that many of these teens will experience an increased risk for developing premature heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

According to the American Heart Association, chest X-rays, ECGs and exercise stress examinations are approved noninvasive diagnostic heart disease tests.

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