USC study shows that boys with diabetes are at particular risk
Youths with type 1 diabetes, especially boys, already show early signs of cardiovascular disease by their teen-age years. Teen-age boys with type 1 diabetes showed evidence of greater atherosclerosis, a thickening of the artery walls, than those without diabetes, according to the study. Researchers also noted that boys with diabetes who smoked, inhaled second-hand smoke or had unfavorable levels of blood lipids-such as cholesterol-tended to have even thicker artery walls.
Researchers compared 90 teen-age boys and girls with type 1 diabetes to 16 other teens the same age without the disease. In each participant, they looked at the intima-media thickness (IMT) of the common carotid artery-basically, the thickness of the wall of the main neck artery. That thickness can hint at atherosclerosis progression.
Atherosclerosis, an accumulation of cholesterol-containing plaques along the artery walls, can eventually cause heart attack, angina and stroke.
Kaufman noted that researchers also tested for certain markers in the blood that are related to inflammation of the inner artery walls. Researchers believe these markers, such as fibrinogen, may indicate heightened inflammatory processes along the artery walls and more imminent risk of cardiovascular disease. However, researchers found no relationship between levels of these markers and IMT in the teen-agers.
In a separate study, Karantza, Kaufman and their colleagues also looked at the role of the up-and-coming marker called C-reactive protein in assessing cardiovascular disease risk among teen-agers with type 1 diabetes.
The team found that among 74 teens with type 1 diabetes, those who had a C-reactive protein level of 1.0 or above also had unfavorable levels of blood lipids, such as LDL, triglycerides and lipoprotein(a). Known as dyslipidemia, this condition is linked to heart disease risk. The teens also had elevated levels of ApoB.
“C-reactive protein may be a useful marker in youth to detect endothelial inflammation that clusters with dyslipidemia and contributes to increased cardiovascular risk in this disease,” Kaufman says.