New Findings Reveal the Importance of Early Risk Factor Control for Atherosclerosis Prevention

New Findings Reveal the Importance of Early Risk Factor Control for Atherosclerosis Prevention

A recent study conducted by the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC) has shed light on the susceptibility of young individuals to the risk factors associated with atherosclerosis. These risk factors, namely elevated blood cholesterol and hypertension, were found to have a more significant impact on atherosclerosis progression in younger people. The study, which was jointly led by Dr. Valentín Fuster and Dr. Borja Ibáñez, underscores the urgent need for aggressive control of cardiovascular risk factors at younger ages.

Traditionally, screening for subclinical atherosclerosis has primarily targeted middle-aged individuals. However, the study’s findings emphasize the importance of early detection and intervention. Atherosclerosis, a silent disease that often progresses unnoticed, can be effectively stopped if risk factors are managed aggressively from an early age. This highlights the crucial role of preventive measures in reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease globally.

The study, known as the PESA-CNIC-Santander study, began in 2009 as a collaboration between CNIC and Santander Bank. Over 4,000 apparently healthy middle-aged employees volunteered to undergo an in-depth analysis of their arteries and provided blood samples for advanced genetic and metabolic analysis. This comprehensive study has significantly contributed to our understanding of cardiovascular disease and is considered one of the most advanced of its kind.

The implications of this research are significant for cardiovascular prevention and personalized medicine. The study’s results advocate for early risk-factor control, primarily focusing on managing elevated cholesterol and hypertension. Furthermore, it suggests personalized approaches that utilize imaging technology to monitor the presence and progression of silent atherosclerosis, enabling tailored risk-factor control strategies.

By comprehensively analyzing imaging and biochemical data over six years, this study has presented groundbreaking insights. Its innovative statistical analysis has revealed that atherosclerosis, long believed to be irreversible, can in fact regress if risk factors are controlled from an early stage. These novel findings open up new avenues for preventing and treating atherosclerosis, offering hope for improved cardiovascular health outcomes.

The study was supported by funding from the European Commission, the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, and the Community of Madrid regional government.


1. What is atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is a disease characterized by the accumulation of plaque in the arteries, leading to narrowed and hardened blood vessels. It is a major cause of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes.

2. What are the risk factors for atherosclerosis?

The risk factors for atherosclerosis include elevated levels of cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle.

3. Why is early risk factor control important for atherosclerosis prevention?

Early risk factor control is crucial for atherosclerosis prevention because the disease often starts silently and progresses over time. By managing risk factors aggressively from an early age, the progression of atherosclerosis can be halted or even reversed.

4. What are the implications of the study’s findings?

The study’s findings highlight the need for early screening and intervention for atherosclerosis. They emphasize the importance of implementing aggressive control of cardiovascular risk factors, such as elevated cholesterol and hypertension, at younger ages to reduce the global burden of cardiovascular disease.

5. How can imaging technology be used for personalized approaches to atherosclerosis?

Imaging technology can provide valuable insights into the presence and progression of silent atherosclerosis. By monitoring these factors, healthcare providers can tailor risk-factor control strategies according to individual needs, leading to more effective prevention and management of atherosclerosis.

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