Teenagers who smoke and drink alcohol are causing visible damage to their arteries by the age of 17, a study has revealed.
Tests showed stiffening of the arteries had begun by this relatively young age.
These physical changes have been linked with an increased risk of heart and blood vessel problems, such as stroke and heart attack, in later life.
But the study also found that the arteries of teenagers who stopped smoking or drinking returned to normal.
The researchers studied data between 2004 and 2008 from 1,266 youngsters taking part in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), which charts the health of 14,500 families in the Bristol area.
The study has been published in the European Heart Journal.
The participants detailed their smoking and drinking habits at the ages of 13, 15 and 17 and tests were then done to discover if there had been any stiffening of their arteries.
They had to report facts including:
- how many cigarettes they had smoked in their lifetime
- the age at which they started to drink alcohol
– Ian Westbrook
Image Source: Flickr.com