Oral contraceptive use in girls and alcohol consumption in boys are associated with increased blood pressure

Lifestyle behaviour in adolescents may adversely affect blood pressure and cardiovascular risk in adulthood, according to results from a large pregnancy follow-up study in Australia. In particular, alcohol consumption among boys, use of the Pill among girls, and high salt intake and increasing body mass index (BMI) in both sexes were important factors linked to blood pressure levels in late adolescence.

The substantial differences in blood pressure found in the study between those with a healthier or less favourable lifestyle "are likely to significantly affect their risk of both and stroke in adulthood", the investigators warn.

They add that adolescence is a time of life when behaviours "tend to become entrenched", and that "significant public health benefits may be achieved from implementation of a range of gender-appropriate within this age group of adolescents".

Behind the warnings lie results from the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study, in which the 2868 of 2900 pregnant women enrolled in 1989 in Perth were followed up at 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 10, 14 and 17 years of age; by then, 1771 adolescents were available for the study. At that time study subjects were asked about , smoking, physical activity, prescription medications (including the use of ), and dietary patterns, and the association between each of these factors and systolic and diastolic blood pressure was calculated.

Boys had an overall systolic blood pressure 9 mmHg higher than girls not taking the Pill. Among the boys, systolic blood pressure was significantly associated with BMI, urinary sodium (as a marker of salt intake) and alcohol consumption. And even when adjusted for BMI, the link with alcohol and salt remained. The study also found that habitual physical activity was associated with lower diastolic blood pressure. Using adult blood pressure definition criteria, approximately 24% of the adolescents were pre-hypertensive or hypertensive; remarkably, 34% of the overweight and 38% of the obese adolescents were in these high blood pressure categories.

Furthermore, use of the Pill was significantly associated with raised blood pressure in the girls; for example, the of girls taking the Pill (30% of the group) was 3.3 mmHg higher than non-Pill users, and grew higher with increasing BMI. This finding, said the authors, extended previous findings on the Pill in adolescence. Blood pressure in the girls was not affected by alcohol consumption.

Commenting on the results, investigator Dr Chi Le-Ha from the Royal Perth Hospital, Australia, said: "Adolescents need to be aware that a lifestyle which predisposes to fatness, high salt intake and alcohol consumption may lead to adverse health consequences in adult life. The effects are additive and already associated with hypertension. Moreover, teenage girls taking oral contraceptives should be advised about regular blood pressure monitoring."

More information: Le-Ha C, Beilin LJ, Burrows S, et al. Oral contraceptive use in girls and alcohol consumption in boys are associated with increased blood pressure in late adolescence. Eur J Prevent Cardiol 2012; DOI: 10.1177/2047487312452966

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sedentary teens more likely to have higher blood pressure

Feb 05, 2007

Teenagers who spend a lot of time planted in front of the TV are more likely to have higher blood pressure, regardless of whether they are overweight. "This is the first research to show a direct and independent connection ...

Researchers identify risks of hypertension in young adults

Jul 27, 2010

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers reveal in a new, large-scale study that "normal" blood pressure at age 17 can still predict hypertension at early adulthood and that teenage boys are three to four times ...

Recommended for you

Gene variant raises risk for aortic tear and rupture

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers from Yale School of Medicine and Celera Diagnostics have confirmed the significance of a genetic variant that substantially increases the risk of a frequently fatal thoracic aortic dissection or full rupture. ...

Considerable variation in CT use in ischemic stroke

Apr 17, 2014

(HealthDay)—For patients with ischemic stroke there is considerable variation in the rates of high-intensity computed tomography (CT) use, according to a study published online April 8 in Circulation: Ca ...

Beating the clock for ischemic stroke sufferers

Apr 17, 2014

A ground-breaking computer technology raises hope for people struck by ischemic stroke, which is a very common kind of stroke accounting for over 80 per cent of overall stroke cases. Developed by research experts at The Hong ...

User comments