Adverse childhood experiences such as abuse or neglect, dysfunctional homes or low
socio-economic status may be associated with a risk of poor blood pressure regulation, a study has found.
The study showed that children who experienced such adverse environments in early life were far more likely to
have higher blood pressure at night as well as blood pressure variability over 24 hours.
In addition they are also prone to rapid onset of hypertension -- risk factor for cardiovascular disease -- at an
"Adverse environments in early life have been consistently associated with the increased risk of hypertension in later life," said lead author Shaoyong Su, Associate Professor at the Augusta University in Georgia, US. 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. For the study, the team conducted periodic around-the-clock blood pressure monitoring to capture day and nighttime pressure readings in 373 participants between the ages of seven and 38 during a 23-year period.
Those who reported childhood adversity were 17 per cent more likely to have blood pressure higher than the clinical definition of hypertension during the daytime. Most physicians focus on average blood pressure readings, but the new findings suggest that they should also ask younger patients about childhood adversity and watch for high blood pressure variability, Su noted. The research was presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2016 in Louisana, US.
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