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.