Children with hypertension are likely to have elevated blood pressure in adulthood as well, according to a new study.
The study led by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests a consistent link between children's blood pressure levels with their blood pressure levels as adults.
"The blood pressure tracking data indicate that children with elevated blood pressure levels often grew up to become adults with elevated blood pressure," said Youfa Wang, MD, PhD, senior author of the study and associate professor with the Bloomberg School's Center for Human Nutrition.
"It is important to monitor blood pressure 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 blood pressure as adults will increase future risks for cardiovascular disease considerably," Wang added.
Wang and Dr Xiaoli Chen, PhD, former postdoctoral research fellow in the Bloomberg School's Department of International Health, reviewed 50 cohort studies tracking the systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels of children into adulthood.
They analyzed blood pressure levels at various ages and follow-up lengths from previously published studies that monitored children's blood pressure levels for as long as forty years across multiple countries and continents.
"The study found a large variation in the degree of blood pressure tracking between childhood and adulthood reported in previous studies, but overall our pooled analysis of these data shows a moderate tracking," said Chen.
"In addition we discovered that older children seem to have a stronger blood pressure tracking into adulthood.
"The longer the follow-up study period between the measures collected in childhood and adulthood, the weaker the blood pressure tracking," Chen added.
Wang suggests that 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 blood pressure to a desirable level.
"Lifestyle modification can also reduce the risks of developing many other chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease," Wang added.
The results are published in the June 2008 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.