Retinal Microvasculature and Cardiovascular Health in Childhood
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Alterations in retinal microvasculature are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. We examined the associations of retinal vessel caliber with cardiovascular markers in school-age children.
METHODS: Among 4007 school-age-children (median age of 6.0 years), we measured cardiovascular markers and retinal vessel calibers from digitized retinal photographs.
RESULTS: Narrower retinal arteriolar caliber was associated with higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure (−0.20 SD score [SDS] [95% confidence interval (CI) −0.24 to −0.18] and −0.14 SDS [−0.17 to −0.11], respectively, per SDS increase in retinal arteriolar caliber), mean arterial pressure, and pulse pressure, but not with carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity, heart rate, cardiac output, or left ventricular mass. A wider retinal venular caliber was associated with lower systolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure, and pulse pressure and higher carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity difference = 0.04 SDS [95% CI 0.01 to 0.07] per SDS increase in retinal venular caliber). Both narrower retinal arteriolar and venular calibers were associated with higher risk of hypertension at the age of 6 years, with the strongest association for retinal arteriolar caliber (odds ratio 1.35 [95% CI 1.21 to 1.45] per SDS decrease in arteriolar caliber). Adjustment for parental and infant sociodemographic factors did not influence the observed associations.
CONCLUSIONS: Both retinal arteriolar and venular calibers are associated with blood pressure in school-age children, whereas retinal venular caliber is associated with carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity. Microvascular adaptations in childhood might influence cardiovascular health and disease from childhood onward.
- Accepted January 9, 2015.
- Copyright © 2015 by the American Academy of Pediatrics