The importance of carotid artery stiffness and increased intima-media thickness in obese children

Mustafa Ozcetin, Z Ruken Yuksekkaya Celikyay, Atac Celik, Resul Yilmaz, Yasemin Yerli, Unal Erkorkmaz


Background. Atherosclerosis that starts in childhood invariably advances during adulthood.
Aim. We aimed to study the effect of obesity on main carotid artery intima-media thickness and arterial stiffness.
Material and methods. A total of 78 children were studied from October 2010 to February 2011. They were divided into obese (42 – group 1) and normal (36 – group 2). All the children were subjected to physical examination, routine biochemical and haematological analysis, carotid ultrasonography and echocardiographic measurements. A detailed medical history was obtained. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated by dividing participants’ weight in kilograms by the square of their height in metres. Stiffness index β was calculated using blood pressure and diameter of the systolic and diastolic artery. Intima-media thickness was also measured.
Results. The mean age of the obese and normal (control) groups were 10.12±2.12 years and 9.78±1.78 years respectively. Weight, BMI, and systolic and and diastolic blood pressure values were significantly higher in the obese group (all p<0.001). In terms of arterial stiffness and carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) measurements, all parameters were higher in the obese group than the control (p<0.001). There was a relationship between the degree of obesity and CIMT or stiffness index β. In addition, dilatation and hypertrophy levels in the left ventricle were higher in obese children.
Conclusions. Obese children with risk factors for multiple atherosclerosis could have increased CIMT dimensions and consequently should be screened for these risks. Ultrasonographic CIMT and arterial stiffness measurements can detect vascular damage at an early stage of development in children with cardiovascular risk factors.

Authors' affiliations

Mustafa Ozcetin, Department of Pediatrics, Zonguldak Karaelmas University School of Medicine, Zonguldak

Z Ruken Yuksekkaya Celikyay, Department of Radiology, Gaziosmanpasa University School of Medicine, Tokat

Atac Celik, Department of Cardiology, Gaziosmanpasa University School of Medicine, Tokat

Resul Yilmaz, Department of Pediatrics, Gaziosmanpasa University School of Medicine, Tokat

Yasemin Yerli, Department of Pediatrics, Gaziosmanpasa University School of Medicine, Tokat

Unal Erkorkmaz, Department of Medical Statistics, Gaziosmanpasa University School of Medicine, Tokat

Full Text



Obesity;Arterial stiffness;Intima-media thickness;Children

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2012;102(5):295-299.

Article History

Date submitted: 2011-10-06
Date published: 2012-03-08

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