A new study led by an Indian-origin researcher has found that even with normal blood pressures, overweight teenage boys might be putting themselves at an increased risk of suffering heart damage.
The research team from Medical College of Georgia has shown that overweight male teens may have increased levels of a hormone called aldosterone, known to increase pressures as well as early signs of heart damage.
"These associations give us reason to question whether we should be screening for and treating high aldosterone in obese males with normal pressures, particularly those with a family history of cardiovascular disease," said MCG Endocrinology Fellow Dayal D. Raja.
"Our failure to halt the progression of heart damage is attributed to late detection, because early heart damage is usually asymptomatic.
"We have evidence that we could identify individuals early and stop or even reverse that damage. We need more study to confirm our findings and a plan for whom and how to screen," he added.
Blood and urine test are available to measure aldosterone levels, but they typically aren't measured unless a patient on multiple medications still has uncontrolled blood pressure.
By then, Dr. Raja said, significant cardiovascular damage may have been done.
Even losing weight wouldn't work for most, Raja adds.
The latest research suggests that fat cells stimulate the adrenal glands to make more aldosterone, said Dr. Gregory Harshfield, director of MCG's Georgia Prevention Institute and a hypertension researcher.
Dr. Harshfield suggests that blocking aldosterone levels in overweight teens with a family history of cardiovascular disease might help determine if it can prevent or reverse dangerous heart changes and forestall hypertension.
The study was presented at American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists 18th Annual Meeting and Clinical Congress in Houston.