"The blood pressure tracking data indicate that children with elevated blood pressure levels often grew up to become adults with elevated blood pressure," researcher Youfa Wang, MD, PhD, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says in a news release.
"It is important to monitor blood pressure in children -- since early detection and intervention could prevent hypertension and related disease risks later in life," Wang says. "For example, studies show that even slightly elevated blood pressure as adults will increase future risks for cardiovascular disease considerably."
High Blood Pressure Starts Early
In the study, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers reviewed 50 studies published since 1970 from various countries that tracked high blood pressure from childhood into adulthood.
Researchers analyzed blood pressure levels at various ages during childhood and compared them with follow-up measurements taken in the same individuals up to 47 years later.
The results showed a consistent relationship between the children's blood pressure levels and blood pressure levels as adults. In particular, blood pressure levels among older children appeared to have a stronger link to blood pressure levels in later adulthood.
Researchers say an estimated 73 million adults have high blood pressure, which is a major contributor to heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, and other health problems.
They say targeting children with high blood pressure with lifestyle modification techniques such as a healthy diet and regular exercise may help reduce their risk of high blood pressure and its related health consequences as adults.