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Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Oct;15 Suppl 4:S367-73. doi: 10.4103/2230-8210.86981.

Essential hypertension in adolescents and children: Recent advances in causative mechanisms.

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Pediatric Cardiovascular Researcher, Population Health Research Institute (PHRI), David Braley Cardiac, Vascular and Stroke Research Institute (DBCVSRI), Hamilton General Hospital, 237 Barton Street East, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


Essential hypertension is the most common form of hypertension in adults, and it is recognized more often in adolescents than in younger children. It is well known that the probability of a diagnosis of essential hypertension increases with age from birth onward. The initiation of high blood pressure burden starts in childhood and continues through adolescence to persist in the remaining phases of life. The genesis of essential hypertension is likely to be multifactorial. Obesity, insulin resistance, activation of sympathetic nervous system, sodium homeostasis, renin-angiotensin system, vascular smooth muscle structure and reactivity, serum uric acid levels, genetic factors and fetal programming have been implicated in this disorder. In addition, erythrocyte sodium transport, the free calcium concentration in platelets and leukocytes, urine kallikrein excretion, and sympathetic nervous system receptors have also been investigated as other possible mechanisms. Obesity in children appears to be the lead contributor of essential hypertension prevalence in children and adolescents. Suggested mechanisms of obesity-related hypertension include insulin resistance, sodium retention, increased sympathetic nervous system activity, activation of renin-angiotensin-aldosterone, and altered vascular function. The etiopathogenesis of essential hypertension in children and adolescents appears to closely resemble that of adults. The minor variations seen could probably be due to the evolving nature of this condition. Many of the established mechanisms that are confirmed in adult population need to be replicated in the pediatric age group by means of definitive research for a better understanding of this condition in future.


Adolescents; children; essential hypertension; etiology; pathogenesis

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