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Eye checks: Signs of later heart disease

A study in Australia has shown that changes occur in blood vessels in the eyes of heavier and obese children from as young as six, warning signs that might be linked to cardiovascular disease in later life.

Previously, these changes -- widening of veins and narrowing of arteries -- were only observed in the retinas of heavy teenagers and adults, and this is the first time that such troubling signs have been seen in children so young.

Writing in the International Journal of Obesity, the researchers called for extensive monitoring of these subtle blood vessel changes as they can be an early indication of risks such as hypertension and stroke when the children enter adulthood.

The retina is a thin layer of neural cells that lines the back of the eyeball.

The study involved 1,740 six-year-olds from 34 schools in Sydney.

After accounting for differences such as sex, ethnicity, length of the eyeball, birth weight and mean blood pressure, the researchers found unique changes in minute blood vessels in the retinas of children who were over the mean weight.

| Tags: Children's Health, Eye and Vision, Heart Health |

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