High Blood Pressure and Your Teen
Researchers Track Teens at Risk for Progression to High Blood Pressure as Adults
May 19, 2006 -- Teens with prehypertension or high
blood pressure are more likely to have high blood pressure and its
related complications when they grow up unless they make some changes now, a
new study shows.
The research was presented Friday at the 21st Annual Scientific Meeting of
the American Society of Hypertension (ASH 2006) in New York City.
A blood pressure level of 140/90 mmHg or higher is considered high. If blood
pressure is between 120/80 mmHg and 139/89 mmHg, it’s called prehypertension,
according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute in Bethesda, Md.
Prehypertension means that you don't have high blood pressure now but are
likely to develop it in the future. This condition also increases your risk of
developing the known complications of high blood pressure -- namely heart disease and stroke.
In the new study of more than 8,000 adolescents aged 13 and 15, researchers
compared single blood pressure readings taken two years apart. They found that
there was a linear increase -- from normal blood pressure to prehypertension to
hypertension -- in the percentage of adolescents classified with hypertension
at the second examination. The data show that the progression of
prehypertension to hypertension is approximately 7% per year.
Among the 4,147 boys in the study, weight was an important predictor of who
would go on to develop high blood pressure. In fact, those boys who were
initially heavier (as measured by body mass index) and continued to gain weight
were at an increased risk of progressing to hypertension, compared with their
Among the 4,386 girls in the study, age was more significant. Specifically,
girls aged 15 were more likely to have higher blood pressure than those who
were 13 years old. The study used data from the National Childhood Blood
“Knowing which youngsters are most likely to progress to hypertension would
provide the ability to target preventive interventions,” researcher Bonita
Falkner, MD, professor of medicine and pediatrics at Thomas Jefferson Medical
College in Philadelphia, said in a written statement.
'Public Health Crisis'
Thomas D. Giles, MD, ASH president and a professor of medicine at Tulane
University School of Medicine in New Orleans, is not surprised by the new
findings. “We have begun to see an increasing number of preteens and teens who
are developing multiple risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” he tells
WebMD. “If preteens and teens don’t modify their lifestyle to reverse these
risk factors, they will wind up with serious complications like stroke, heart
attack, and early kidney disease and all the rest as young
While the new study suggests that increasing body weight is a predictive
factor, Giles says that going forward, researchers will also look at waist size
as a risk factor for developing high
“This is absolutely a public health crisis,” he says. “We just have to do
something to get preteens and teens to be more active physically and have some
semblance about what they are eating.”