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Increased blood pressure reactivity in children of borderline hypertensive fathers

Lemne, Carola E.

Original article

Objective: To evaluate the influence of heredity on blood pressure levels and reactivity in the offspring of borderline hypertensive and normotensive fathers.

Participants and outcome measures: Borderline hypertensive and normotensive men having normotensive wives (n = 25 and 26) were identified in a population screening program. Their children aged above 12 years were invited to participate. Seventeen having a borderline hypertensive father (BHT+) and 19 with a normotensive father (NT+) were investigated. Clinical and 24 h ambulatory blood pressure was measured, as well as blood pressure reactivity to an arithmetic mental stress test.

Results: The BHT+ group had a significantly higher clinical systolic blood pressure than the NT+ group (126 ± 13 versus 115 ± 7 mmHg, P < 0.01) but similar 24 h blood pressure levels. Systolic blood pressure variability (standard deviation of systolic blood pressure measurements each hour over 24 h) was significantly higher in the BHT+ group (18 ± 4 versus 16 ± 4 mmHg, P < 0.05). During mental stress test the BHT+ group had significantly higher increases in systolic and diastolic blood pressures at 4 min (NT+ 8% and 13% versus BHT+ 16% and 23% above baseline, P < 0.05) and significantly elevated DBP during the period after the stress test (NT+ 1% versus BHT+ 13% above baseline, P < 0.01).

Conclusion: Even a mild level of hypertensive heredity affects important markers of blood pressure regulation, such as blood pressure variability and reactivity to mental stress. This might have prognostic implications; it also points to the possible importance of these variables as early signs of a familial predisposition to hypertension.

Division of Emergency and Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Medicine, Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.

Correspondence and requests for reprints to Dr Carola Lemne, MD, PhD, Division of Emergency and Cardiovascular Medicine, B2–05, Karolinska Hospital, S-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden. Tel: +46 8 51 77 33 96; fax: +46 8 51 77 58 55; e-mail:

Sponsorship: This study was funded by grants from the Heart–Lung Foundation and Gustav V's Jubilee Foundation.

Received 23 October 1997 Revised 3 April 1998 Accepted 8 April 1998

© 1998 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.