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Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 1999 Apr;9(2):78-86.

Early markers of cardiovascular damage in obese subjects.

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Internal Medicine Department, University of Palermo, Italy.


Cardiovascular disease remains a frequent cause of morbidity and mortality in industrialized countries, particularly in subjects with hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and dyslipidemia, conditions frequently associated with central obesity. Identification of early morphological and/or functional alterations of the cardiovascular system may help target individuals most likely to benefit from preventive measures. The literature data and our own experience suggest that parameters that are direct expressions of cardiovascular damage, can be identified at an early stage. For example, diastolic dysfunction may precede the clinical expression of several cardiac diseases, left ventricular hypertrophy is one of the first manifestations of cardiac involvement in hypertension, central obesity and diabetes mellitus, and a carotid plaque may point to concomitant coronary artery disease. Other early manifestations of cardiovascular involvement are microalbuminuria and endothelial dysfunction. Insulin resistance and alterations of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system play an important physiopathogenic role in the development of cardiovascular damage in obese subjects, and their association with risk and cardiovascular disease has been confirmed in numerous studies. Since all these changes generally precede overt clinical manifestations and are closely related to cardiovascular morbidity, they may help identify individuals at the highest risk of cardiovascular events.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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