The purpose of this study was to examine the roles of adolescence risk factors in predicting coronary artery calcium (CAC).
Elevated coronary heart disease risk factor levels in adolescence may predict subsequent CAC independently of change in risk factor levels from adolescence to adulthood.
CAC was assessed in 589 subjects 40 to 46 years of age from the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study. Risk factor levels were measured in 1980 (12 to 18 years) and in 2007.
The prevalence of any CAC was 19.2% (27.9% in men and 12.2% in women). Age, levels of systolic blood pressure (BP), total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) in adolescence, as well as systolic BP, total cholesterol, diastolic BP, and pack-years of smoking in adulthood were higher among subjects with CAC than those without CAC. Adolescence LDL-C and systolic BP levels predicted CAC in adulthood independently of 27-year changes in these risk factors. The multivariable odds ratios were 1.34 (95% confidence interval: 1.05 to 1.70; p = 0.02) and 1.38 (95% confidence interval: 1.08 to 1.77; p = 0.01), for 1-SD increase in adolescence LDL-C and systolic BP, respectively. Exposure to both of these risk factors in adolescence (defined as values at or above the age- and sex-specific 75th percentile) substantially increased the risk of CAC (multivariable odds ratio: 3.5 [95% confidence interval: 1.7 to 7.2; p = 0.007]) between groups with no versus both risk factors.
Elevated adolescence LDL-C and systolic BP levels are independent predictors of adulthood CAC, indicating that adolescence risk factor levels play an important role in the pathogenesis of coronary heart disease.