Young, Healthy Looking. . . AND STILL at Risk for Clogged Arteries

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro
  • Shouldn't you be the "picture of health" as a young adult? Guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that looks are deceiving.

    Canadian researchers presented study results recently at the 2011 Canadian Cardiovascular Congress regarding their study of 168 adults between the ages of 18 and 35 years-old.

    Study participants had no family history of heart disease, nor any other known risk factors, such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or smoking.

    Guess what? Researchers found a "staggering" number of participants to have atherosclerosis, which is a build-up of plaque along artery walls. Almost half of participants had signs of atherosclerosis - 48%.

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:

    Height, weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference were recorded for all participants. MRI scans measured both subcutaneous (fat under the skin) and visceral fat (fat around vital organs).

    These measurements found many participants to have greater waist circumferences and higher levels of visceral fat within the chest and abdomen. These high levels of visceral fat increase risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke at some point in their lives. It's this high level of visceral fat that is likely contributing to the early signs of atherosclerosis.

    These Canadian findings corroborate previous research that has found up to 80% of young American's killed in war or car accidents to have premature and hidden atherosclerosis.

    What Can You Do?

    Well, if you are a young adult you can stop thinking you are invisible. It's just as important to take steps early in life and not wait until the reality of your own mortality is staring you in the face.

    You must maintain a healthy weigh to take steps to lose weight if necessary. If you smoke, stop. If you don't smoke, don't start. Limit alcohol and reduce stress levels. Don't be ignorant when it comes to your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Discuss with your doctor, check your levels on a regular basis, and take steps to lower levels if necessary.

    Know What's Really Scary?

    Many individuals between the ages of 18 and 35 are raising families of their own. Children pick up the habits that are modeled to them. If you eat poorly and are inactive what are your children likely to do? If you are grabbing fast food, what are your children eating? If you are watching TV after work, what are your children doing after school?

    This study is talking about young adults, but there are studies out there showing atherosclerosis appearing at higher levels in children as well.

    And it's not just parents, but grandparents play a role as well. Grandparents, think about what you are doing when you spend time with your grandkids. Are you providing nutritious snacks? Are you getting them up and moving? Or do you think you are doing enough by giving your kids a break, so it's okay if the grandkids vegetate in front of cartoons and eat junk. It's your chance to spoil them, right?

    I'm not trying to pick on grandparents, I just know more families are becoming dependent on grandma and grandpa to help out and it's just as important for grandparents to provide a healthy environment as it is for the parents. In many cases it's a team effort to keep your children healthy and ensure they develop habits that will support a long and healthy life.

  • By doing so you'll not only ensure a healthy child, but a healthy young adult.
    You may be interested in the free e-course "How to Lower Cholesterol in 8 Simple Steps" located at

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:
Published On: October 30, 2011