Young people with type 1 diabetes show signs of cardiovascular risk factors

Despite advancements in the treatment and care of individuals with type 1 diabetes, a new study out of Cincinnati Children's Hospital has found that young people with the condition are at a considerably higher risk of developing heart disease at a young age.

The findings, which were presented at a recent meeting of the American Diabetes Association, showed that young adults with type 1 diabetes are significantly more likely to have stiff carotid arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is a serious cardiovascular condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries, making them less flexible and reducing blood flow. In the case of the carotid artery, which leads into the heart, this can dramatically increase a person's risk of heart attack or stroke. Additionally, it is associated with shortness of breath, chest pain and other symptoms.

For the study, the researchers analyzed the cardiovascular health of a group of individuals between the ages of 17 and 23 who had type 1 diabetes. The results showed that these individuals had significantly thicker and stiffer carotid arteries than a group of similarly aged individuals who did not have diabetes.

The researchers said that their findings underscore the point that more needs to be done to protect the cardiovascular health of young people with the condition. This may involve the development of new treatments or simply a greater sense of urgency on the part of diabetics to take better care of themselves.

"We hope that the knowledge provided by the research study will translate into better quality of care and better quality of life for youth with type 1 diabetes and will reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in this patient population," said Dana Dabelea, who led the study.