Childhood adversity linked to blood pressure dysfunction

November 15, 2016, American Heart Association
Blood pressure monitor with cuff. Credit: American Heart Association

A difficult childhood may be associated with a risk of poor blood pressure regulation, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2016.

Fluctuations in blood pressure readings ( variability) have been associated in some studies to elevated risk of cardiovascular disease and complications from hypertension. Researchers at the Augusta University Medical College of Georgia investigated the impact of "adverse experiences" – or neglect, dysfunctional homes, or low socioeconomic status – during the transition from childhood to adulthood. Earlier research has linked adverse childhood experiences to faster increase of blood pressure in adulthood.

Researchers conducted periodic around-the-clock blood pressure monitoring to capture day and nighttime pressure readings in 373 participants between the ages of 7 and 38 during a 23-year period. Those who reported childhood adversity were 17 percent more likely to have blood pressure higher than the clinical definition of hypertension during the daytime.

"Adverse environments in early life have been consistently associated with the increased risk of hypertension in later life," said Shaoyong Su, Ph.D., lead author and an associate professor of pediatrics at Augusta University Medical College of Georgia. "We found that children who experienced childhood abuse or neglect, dysfunctional homes and low socioeconomic status, were far more likely to have higher blood pressure at night as well as blood pressure variability over 24 hours, in addition to more rapid onset of hypertension at an earlier age."

A man wearing a cuff getting a blood pressure reading. Credit: American Heart Association

Twenty-four-hour ambulatory blood pressure is considered a a better predictor of organ damage and cardiovascular events, as it can assess not only nighttime blood pressure levels, but also the blood pressure variability in real life. Blood pressure was monitored up to 15 times during the study.

Researchers said there was no difference in at various ages suggesting the patterns of adverse events in childhood are similar through young adulthood.

Most physicians focus on average , but the new findings suggest that they should also ask younger patients about and watch for variability, he noted.

"This is not something most clinicians currently address, but it is a simple step that could identify many individuals at risk of adult hypertension and help them achieve control at an earlier age. This could avoid problems as they age," he said.

Blood pressure variability has been linked to a number of problems in adults, including decreased brain function in older adults, as well as increased risk of stroke and poorer post-stroke recovery. Likewise, early-onset hypertension and prehypertension have been linked to adverse preclinical cardiovascular disease, including left ventricular hypertrophy and evidence of increased arterial stiffness.

Explore further: White coat hypertension may indicate risk for heart disease in some people

Related Stories

White coat hypertension may indicate risk for heart disease in some people

October 31, 2016
White coat hypertension, where patients have high blood pressure readings in a medical setting but normal blood pressure outside the doctor's office, is most likely an innocuous condition that is not a predictor of heart ...

Higher fluctuations in blood pressure linked to brain function decline

May 23, 2016
Higher long-term variability in blood pressure readings were linked to faster declines in brain and cognitive function among older adults, according to new research in the American Heart Association's journal Hypertension.

Around-the-clock monitoring may unmask hypertension in African-Americans

May 16, 2016
Wearing an ambulatory blood pressure monitoring device that measures blood pressure around-the-clock may help identify African Americans who have masked or undetected high blood pressure outside of the doctor's office, a ...

Blood pressure targets relevant for children, teens

March 29, 2016
(HealthDay)—Prehypertension and hypertension in children and adolescents are associated with cardiovascular target organ damage and set the trajectory for early adulthood high blood pressure (BP), according to an editorial ...

High blood pressure reading in kids linked to triple risk for condition as adults

September 12, 2013
Children with one or more high blood pressure readings were about three times more likely to develop the condition as adults, in a study presented at the American Heart Association High Blood Pressure Research Scientific ...

Are childhood stroke outcomes associated with BP, blood glucose, temperature?

May 23, 2016
Infarct (tissue damage) volume and hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) were associated with poor neurological outcomes after childhood stroke but hypertension and fever were not, according to an article published online by ...

Recommended for you

Genetic analysis links obesity with diabetes, coronary artery disease

November 16, 2018
A Cleveland Clinic genetic analysis has found that obesity itself, not just the adverse health effects associated with it, significantly increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease. The paper was published ...

Non-coding genetic variant could improve key vascular functions

November 15, 2018
Atherosclerotic disease, the slow and silent hardening and narrowing of the arteries, is a leading cause of mortality worldwide. It is responsible for more than 15 million deaths each year, including an estimated 610,000 ...

Study of two tribes sheds light on role of Western-influenced diet in blood pressure

November 14, 2018
A South American tribe living in near-total isolation with no Western dietary influences showed no increase in average blood pressure from age one to age 60, according to a study led by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg ...

Heart failure patients shouldn't stop meds even if condition improves: study

November 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—There's bad news for heart failure patients with dilated cardiomyopathy who'd like to stop taking their meds.

Bypass beats stents for diabetics with heart trouble: study

November 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—People with both diabetes and multiple clogged heart arteries live longer if they undergo bypass surgery rather than have their blood vessels reopened with stents, according to follow-up results from a landmark ...

New treatment significantly reduces cardiovascular events when combined with statins

November 12, 2018
Statins are the most commonly used treatment for cardiovascular disease. Despite reducing certain risk factors, if triglyceride levels remain high with use of statins, there is still a significant risk for heart attack, stroke ...

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.