The Timing and Sequence of Cardiovascular Health Decline


      Childhood declines in cardiovascular health have been linked to the development of subclinical atherosclerosis; however, less is known about the timing and sequence of the decline of the specific cardiovascular health components. The study objective is to identify the patterns of decline and associations with adulthood subclinical atherosclerosis.


      Data were pooled from 5 cardiovascular cohorts. Clinical components of cardiovascular health (BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose) were categorized as ideal or nonideal using American Heart Association definitions. Multitrajectory models simultaneously fitted the probability ideal for each factor. Adjusted associations between trajectory groups and carotid intima-media thickness were modeled. Data were pooled from December 1, 2015 to June 1, 2019; statistical analysis occurred between June 1, 2019 and June 1, 2020.


      This study included 9,388 individuals (55% female, 66% White). A total of 5 distinct trajectory groups were created: 1 maintained the ideal levels of all the 4 health factors, 2 had risk onset of a single factor in childhood, 1 had risk onset of multiple factors in childhood, and 1 had risk onset in adulthood. Those with childhood multiple risk onset had 8.1% higher carotid intima-media thickness (95% CI=0.067, 0.095) than those in the ideal group, childhood cholesterol risk onset had 5.9% higher carotid intima-media thickness (95% CI=0.045, 0.072), childhood BMI risk onset had 5.5% higher carotid intima-media thickness (95% CI=0.041, 0.069), and early adulthood multiple risk onset had 2.7% higher carotid intima-media thickness (95% CI=0.013, 0.041).


      Those who lost the ideal status of cardiovascular health in childhood and early adulthood had more subclinical atherosclerosis than those who retained the ideal cardiovascular health across the life course, underscoring the importance of preserving the ideal cardiovascular health beginning in childhood and continued into adulthood.
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