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BMI in Teens Can Predict Future Risk of Hypertension

New research indicates that blood pressure at age 17 can predict hypertension in early adulthood, and that teenage boys are much more likely than girls to develop the condition in early adulthood.

Findings from a large-scale study indicate that blood pressure at age 17, even at normal levels, can predict hypertension in early adulthood.

The research, which is published in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association, also indicates that adolescent boys are much more likely to develop hypertension in early adulthood than adolescent girls.

In the study, Amir Tirosh, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and colleagues sought to determine how adolescent blood pressure tracks into young adulthood by observing 26,980 participants in the Metabolic Lifestyle and Nutrition Assessment in Young Adults who had BP <140/90 mm Hg at enrollment or were categorized by current criteria for pediatric BP and body mass index (BMI) values. Investigators took regular readings of BP in participants between ages 17 and 42, identifying 3,810 new cases of hypertension.

In survival analyses, they found that the cumulative risk of hypertension during ages 17 and 42 years was three to four times higher in men than in women. After adjusting for age and BMI, they concluded that BMI at age 17 years was significantly linked with future risk of hypertension, particularly in boys.

Tirosh and colleagues concluded that “BP at adolescence, even in the low-normotensive range, linearly predicts progression to hypertension in young adulthood,” and that “this progression and the apparent interaction between BP at age 17 years and BMI at adolescence and at adulthood are sex dependent.”