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Hypertension. 1991 Sep;18(3 Suppl):I74-81.

Childhood predictors of future blood pressure.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242.


Blood pressure in infants and children is much lower than that in adults. It is suspected that children whose blood pressures are greatest for their age or body size may be destined for future hypertension. However, it is apparent that some children with lower blood pressures are also destined for hypertension as adults. Children with a family history of hypertension demonstrate greater blood pressure and heart rate responses to mental challenge. These responses are enhanced when a high salt diet is consumed. Increased maximal exercise systolic blood pressure and increased left ventricular wall mass in childhood add significantly to the prediction of future high blood pressure. In addition, the acquisition of excess weight for height from childhood to young adult life adds to the prediction of future blood pressure elevations. Both children and adults who are obese have significantly higher blood pressures than those who are lean. Approximately 34% of the variability in body mass index is explained by genotype differences at a single recessive locus, 41% by genotype differences at polygenic loci, and 25% by nongenetic factors. Thus, the genetic influence of obesity may be an important factor responsible for elevated blood pressure in both children and adults.

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