Microcirculatory abnormalities precede the onset of hypertension and may explain its familial nature. We examined the relationship between parental blood pressure (BP) and offspring retinal microvasculature in Pakistani trios [father, mother, and child (aged 9–14 years)].
This is a substudy of a population-based trial of BP reduction. Data were available on 358 normotensive, and 410 offspring of at least one hypertensive parent. Retinal vessel characteristics were measured from digital images. Multivariable linear regression models were built to assess the associations between maternal and paternal BP and offspring retinal microvasculature.
Optimality deviation was greatest in offspring of two hypertensive parents, compared with those with one or no hypertensive parent (P = 0.030 for trend). Paternal SBP and DBP were each significantly associated with optimality deviation in offspring (P = 0.023 and P = 0.006, respectively). This relationship persisted after accounting for offspring cardiovascular risk factors [increase in optimality deviation (95% confidence interval, CI) 0.0053 (0.0001–0.0106, P = 0.047) and 0.0109 (0.0025–0.0193, P = 0.011), for each 10 mmHg increase in paternal SBP and DBP, respectively]. Maternal DBP was inversely associated with offspring arteriovenous ratio −0.0102 (−0.0198 to −0.0007, P = 0.035).
Microvascular endothelial dysfunction in children is associated with increasing levels of parental hypertension. The association with paternal BP is independent of other cardiovascular risk factors, including the child's BP. Higher maternal DBP is associated with evidence of arteriolar narrowing in offspring. These early microcirculatory changes may help explain familial predisposition to hypertension in people of Pakistani origin at an early age.