Background: Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide. While cardiovascular disease typically does not occur until adulthood, the pathogenesis of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease starts in early childhood.
Objective: The purpose of this review is to describe the evidence that the process of atherosclerosis begins in childhood, as well as identify the risk factors present in childhood that are associated with the presence of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in childhood as well as future cardiovascular events in adulthood.
Results and Conclusion: There is much accumulating evidence linking modifiable risk factors that are already present in childhood and that strongly predict future cardiovascular disease. The selective targeting of modifiable risk factors in childhood, including body mass index, holds promise in reducing the burden of adult cardiovascular disease. Future research studies should focus on elucidating the mechanisms which drive the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis in childhood and young adulthood, as well as identifying which interventions are most effective at limiting the progression of atherosclerosis and thus reducing future cardiovascular disease.