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Circulation. 2002 Jun 11;105(23):2712-8.

Obesity accelerates the progression of coronary atherosclerosis in young men.

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  • 1University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, USA.



Obesity is a risk factor for adult coronary heart disease and is increasing in prevalence among youths as well as adults. Results regarding the association of obesity with atherosclerosis are conflicting, particularly when analyses account for other risk factors.


The Pathobiological Determinants of Atherosclerosis in Youth (PDAY) study collected arteries, blood, and other tissue from approximately 3000 persons aged 15 to 34 years dying of external causes and autopsied in forensic laboratories. We measured gross atherosclerotic lesions in the right coronary artery (RCA), American Heart Association (AHA) lesion grade in the left anterior descending coronary artery (LAD), serum lipid concentrations, serum thiocyanate (for smoking), intimal thickness of renal arteries (for hypertension), glycohemoglobin (for hyperglycemia), and adiposity by body mass index (BMI) and thickness of the panniculus adiposus. BMI in young men was associated with both fatty streaks and raised lesions in the RCA and with AHA grade and stenosis in the LAD. The effect of obesity (BMI>30 kg/m(2)) on RCA raised lesions was greater in young men with a thick panniculus adiposus. Obesity was associated with non-HDL and HDL (inversely) cholesterol concentrations, smoking (inversely), hypertension, and glycohemoglobin concentration, and these variables accounted for approximately 15% of the effect of obesity on coronary atherosclerosis in young men. BMI was not associated with coronary atherosclerosis in young women although there was trend among those with a thick panniculus adiposus.


Obesity is associated with accelerated coronary atherosclerosis in adolescent and young adult men. These observations support the current emphasis on controlling obesity to prevent adult coronary heart disease.

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