Studies that link coronary heart disease (CHD) to the status of health during childhood concentrate on three main areas: (1) elevated levels of cholesterol and triglicerides, even in infancy, (2) genetic inclination to CHD in children of CHD victims, and (3) histological differences in the structure of the coronary vessel wall in children of families with higher or lower incidence of CHD.
In this issue of The Journal (p 1531) Chase et al report elevated lipid levels in 29% of 179 offspring of 71 victims of early heart attacks. Similar findings in the Busselton study in western Australia led Godfrey et al1 to say that mass screening of school children's cholesterol levels might be a more effective method of planning prophylaxis of atherosclerosis than the examinations of middle-aged men whose disease is likely to be far advanced and possibly irreversible.
Chase et al agree with this recommendation and suggest
Danilevicius Z. When Does CHD Start?. JAMA. 1974;230(11):1565–1566. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240110057023