The American Heart Association has published a report demonstrating that adolescent boys have a significantly increased risk of high systolic blood pressure compared to adolescent girls. That fact may account for the higher prevalence of adult hypertension among men compared to women identified in previous studies, researchers report in “Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.”
The study represents the first documentation of gender difference in adolescent blood pressure, and the results could lead to new strategies to reduce the occurrence of hypertension in younger male adults.
The researchers are members of GENESIS, a Canadian research group concerned with identifying gender differences in the antecedents and manifestations of cardiovascular disease. They obtained the blood pressure data as part of the NDIT Study (Natural History of Nicotine Dependence in Teens), which recruited 1,293 students from 10 Montreal secondary schools. A total of 1,267 of the students (614 boys, 653 girls) began participating in the study in 1999 as 7th graders.
As part of the study, students had their blood pressure measured in the 7th, 9th and 11th grades, and answered detailed questionnaires that included questions about physical activity.
The study also found a lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle increased the risk of higher SBP in both boys and girls, independent of each other.
“It was important to document that as the boys got older they were more likely to have higher systolic blood pressure readings,” said Kaberi Dasgupta, M.D., lead author of the study, physician at McGill University Health Center and assistant professor of medicine at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. “It suggests that, as young adults, they may be more likely to develop hypertension.”