Health Discoveries in General Health News

Children's narrowed eye arteries foretell heart problems

April 21, 2011
The lack of exercise that goes with an excessive amount of sedentary activities by children appear to narrow their eye arteries, which may indicate they will have heart-related problems later in life.

A study at the University of Sydney in Australia involved nearly 1,500 children, all aged 6, whose physical activity and sedentary habits were tracked. The vasculature in the back of each child's eye was photographed to determine the average vessel width.

"We found that kids who spent more than one-and-a-half hours [in screen time] were more likely to have adverse effects on the retinal vessels," said Dr. Bamini Gopinath, a senior research fellow at the university. "Changes to the retinal vessels give a good idea of what is going on in the rest of the body, particularly the heart. In adults, we've found that narrower retinal arteries signal increased risk of hypertension and heart disease."

The study, which researchers said pointed out the need for more exercise for children, was published online in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Heart health initiatives, such as reducing weight, are part of the community health promotion and education programs of the North Shore-LIJ Health System. Programs include a heart healthy program for school children in grades K-8.
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