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  1. Harrell, Joanne S. PhD, RN, FAAN, FAHA
  2. Pearce, Patricia F. MSN, RN, CS-FNP
  3. Hayman, Laura L. PhD, RN, FAAN, FAHA


Although cardiovascular disease is seldom manifested clinically before the fourth or fifth decade of life, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease processes begin in early childhood. Fatty streaks and atherosclerotic lesions have been found post- mortem in the aorta and coronary vessels of children as young as 6 years of age. The modifiable risk factors for heart and vascular disease that are found in adults, such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity, are also present in children. Available evidence emphasizes the need for both population-based and individual approaches to primary prevention of CVD beginning in childhood. This article summarizes this evidence and outlines strategies for promoting primary prevention in children and adolescents.