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Ultrasound assessment of endothelial function in children

Authors Mikko J Järvisalo, Olli T Raitakari

Published 15 October 2005 Volume 2005:1(3) Pages 227—233

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Mikko J Järvisalo1,2, Olli T Raitakari2

1Department of Internal Medicine, Satakunta Central Hospital, Pori, Finland; 2Department of Clinical Physiology, Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland

Abstract: Although the clinical complications of atherosclerosis arise from developed lesions in old age, the atherosclerotic disease is a lifelong process with roots in childhood. Endothelial dysfunction is currently considered an early stage in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, which precedes the formation of structural atherosclerotic changes. Improvements in noninvasive imaging modalities, mainly in ultrasound imaging, have made it possible to assess the endothelial health of asymptomatic children with or without cardiovascular risk factors. By using noninvasive ultrasound for endothelial function, important insights have been gained into the early stages of atherosclerosis and the effects of cardiovascular risk factors on vasculature in childhood. The ultrasound test of endothelial function is affordable, available, and safe and may be considered a potent aid in clinical risk stratification of children at high risk for subsequent clinical atherosclerosis in adulthood. At present, this methodology serves only research purposes, as many issues including reproducibility and normal values for healthy children need to be solved before clinical use can be considered. In adults, however, recent studies have shown that attenuated endothelial function predicts the occurrence of future cardiovascular events.

Keywords: atherosclerosis, endothelial dysfunction, ultrasound imaging, childhood vasculature

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