Is hypertension in your family?

May 31, 2012 By Karen Petit, University of South Carolina

(Medical Xpress) -- If your parents have a history of high blood pressure, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing the disease through moderate exercise and increased cardiovascular fitness, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension.

The study, led by researchers at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health, found that those who had a parent with but were highly fit had a 34 percent lower risk of developing high themselves, compared to those with a low-fitness level who had the same parental history. The study involved more than 6,000 people.

“Understanding the roles that family history and fitness play in chronic diseases is critically important,” said Robin P. Shook, the study’s lead author and an Arnold School doctoral student.

“The results of this study send a very practical message, which is that even a very realistic, moderate amount of exercise — which we define as brisk walking for 150 minutes per week — can provide a huge health benefit, particularly to people predisposed to hypertension because of their family history,” he said.

Previous research indicates that parental history accounts for about 35 percent to 65 percent of the variability in blood pressure among offspring, with varying levels of risk based on which parent developed it and the age of onset.

Researchers followed a group of 6,278 predominantly Caucasian adults 20 to 80 years old for an average 4.7 years. The participants were patients of the Cooper Clinic, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventive medicine, research and education in Dallas.

Thirty-three percent of participants reported that a parent had hypertension. When the study began, all participants were healthy, reported no physician diagnosis of hypertension, and achieved an exercise test score of at least 85 percent of their age-predicted maximal heart rate. Researchers determined participants’ cardiorespiratory fitness using a maximal treadmill exercise test.

During the study, 1,545 participants reported they had developed hypertension.

Researchers found that:

• Combining those with and without a of high blood pressure, high levels of fitness were associated with a 42 percent lower risk of developing hypertension, and moderate levels of fitness with a 26 percent lower risk.

• People with both a low level of fitness and a parent with hypertension had a 70 percent higher risk for developing hypertension compared with highly fit people with no parental history.

• Those with a high level of fitness and a parent with hypertension experienced only a 16 percent higher risk of developing compared to those who were fit and had no parental history.

“The correlation between levels, parental history and risk are impossible to ignore,” Shook said. “This awareness can serve the clinician and the patient, as they work together to find effective and reasonable ways to avoid the diseases that have affected their family members — in some cases, for generations.”

The research findings may not apply to all people because the majority of the study participants were relatively fit, well-educated, middle- to upper-class white men.

The findings support the ’s recommendations of moderately intense physical activity, such as brisk walking, for 30 minutes or longer at least five days a week.

Explore further: Physical fitness may reduce hypertension risk in people with family history

Related Stories

Physical fitness may reduce hypertension risk in people with family history

May 14, 2012
If your parents have a history of high blood pressure, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing the disease with moderate exercise and increased cardiovascular fitness, according to new research in the American ...

Improving fitness, preventing fat gain key in protecting heart

February 9, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Good news for active adults fighting the battle of the bulge. Exercising and getting fit may protect your heart, even if you have a few extra pounds, according to a study published in the Feb. 14 issue ...

Recommended for you

Group suggests pushing age of adolescence to 24

January 22, 2018
A small group of researchers with the Royal Children's Hospital in Australia is suggesting that it might be time to change the span of years that define adolescence—from the current 10 to 19 to a proposed 10 to 24 years ...

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.