Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease which begins in the first decade of life. As clinically apparent atherosclerosis occurs in adulthood, there is a very long time-interval in which arterial wall abnormalities constitute asymptomatic or “preclinical” atherosclerosis. High-resolution B-mode ultrasound constitutes a valid, reliable and inexpensive method for detecting early both structural and functional atherosclerotic changes in the arterial wall. Impaired flowmediated dilation of brachial artery and increased thickness of the intima-media complex of the carotid artery have been found in healthy subjects with risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In this review we evaluated the influence in healthy young subjects of a positive family history of (premature) coronary artery disease, hypertension or type 2 diabetes mellitus on preclinical atherosclerosis.
Keywords: Family history, carotid arteries, atherosclerosis, ultrasound, risk factors
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