Genetic factors likely play some role in high blood pressure. If your parents were diagnosed with high blood pressure before age
55, you may be at higher risk for developing high blood pressure than if
they developed hypertension at a later age, suggested a preliminary
study presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions
Framingham Heart Study researchers examined blood pressure information collected on parents and their offspring since as early as 1948. Specifically, they looked at 1,635 adult children (average age 32) who did not have high blood pressure at the start.
Of the offspring studied: group one had no parents with high blood pressure; group two had one or more parents with late-onset hypertension, meaning they were diagnosed at age 55 or older; group three had one parent with early-onset high blood pressure; and group four had both parents with early-onset hypertension. They found:
- When individuals with non-hypertensive parents, group one, were followed for a decade, 6% of them developed high blood pressure. This portion in group two was 8%; in group three it was 11%; and in group four, where both parents had early-onset hypertension, it was 19%.
- The offspring's high blood pressure risk increased by about 50% from group one to group two. And from group one to group four, offspring with both parents having early-onset hypertension had 3.5 times the risk of hypertension compared to offspring whose parents had normal blood pressure.
Finally, the researchers found that the earlier in life the parents developed hypertension, the earlier their offspring did also. It may be important to differentiate between early- and late-onset parental hypertension when estimating an individual's hypertension risk, researchers said.