Childhood blood pressure levels reflected in adult life

June 17th, 2008 - 2:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 17 (IANS) High blood pressure or hypertension in childhood often follows the individual into adulthood, says a new study. The analyses of previously published tracking studies spread over the last four decades show a consistent relationship between children’s and adults’ blood pressure (BP) levels.

“The BP tracking data indicate that children with elevated BP levels often grew up to become adults with elevated BP,” said Youfa Wang of Bloomberg School of Public Health and co-author of the study.

“It is important to monitor BP in children - since early detection and intervention could prevent hypertension and related disease risks later in life.

“For example, studies show that even slightly elevated BP as adults will increase future risks for cardiovascular disease considerably.”

Wang and Xiaoli Chen, former research fellow in the Bloomberg school, attributed the findings to a systematic review and meta-analysis of 50 cohort studies tracking the systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels of children into adulthood.

Researchers analysed BP levels at various ages and follow-up lengths from previously published studies that monitored children’s blood pressure levels for as many as 40 years across multiple countries and continents.

“In addition we discovered that older children seem to have a stronger BP tracking into adulthood. The longer the follow-up study period between the measures collected in childhood and adulthood, the weaker the blood pressure tracking.”

Currently it is estimated that nearly 73 million adults in US alone have high BP. Hypertension - one of the major modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease - can lead to heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure and a number of other health problems.

A previous study conducted by Wang and colleagues found that approximately 60 percent of American adults had pre-hypertension or hypertension in 1999 to 2000, and several population groups were disproportionately affected.

“Lifestyle modification such as eating a healthy diet and having adequate exercise is preferred to medication when appropriate to help young people to control their elevated BP to a desirable level,” said Wang.

These results have been published in the June issue of Circulation, Journal of the American Heart Association.

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