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Diabetologia. 2011 Apr;54(4):715-8. doi: 10.1007/s00125-010-2041-0. Epub 2011 Jan 19.

Stressed hearts in children with obesity and diabetes: a cause for concern?

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Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, BHF Glasgow Cardiovascular Research Centre, 126 University Place, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8TA, UK.


Obesity in young people is an emerging public health problem, particularly because of its association with type 2 diabetes. Since obesity and diabetes contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease in adults, the question arises as to whether or not these conditions may be associated with cardiovascular abnormalities in children and adolescents. In this issue of Diabetologia, Shah et al. report the results of a cross-sectional study of heart structure and function in 612 adolescents and young adults (aged 10-24 years) subdivided into three groups: (1) those with obesity and type 2 diabetes; (2) those with type 2 diabetes but without obesity; and (3) lean healthy controls. Their results revealed that left ventricular mass (indexed to body surface area) was greater in the obese individuals than in lean controls. Left ventricular systolic function was more dynamic in obese participants and obese participants with type 2 diabetes compared with lean controls, whereas systolic function was comparable in obese patients with or without type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, compared with the healthy lean control participants, diastolic function was impaired in the obese group and further impaired in the obese individuals with diabetes. These results, and those of a few other similar studies, lend support to the notion that obesity and diabetes in children cause subtle abnormalities in cardiovascular structure and function. The present commentary discusses potential mechanisms and possible clinical ramifications for such findings.

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