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Teen risks push blood pressure high - warning

Thursday July 12th, 2012

Teenage girls who take the Pill and boys who drink alcohol are putting their bodies at risk from heart disease and high blood pressure in late adolescence, researchers warned yesterday.

According to a study in Australia, high salt intake and being overweight – increasing body mass index (BMI) – in both sexes were also important factors linked to blood pressure levels.

The conclusions come from a follow-up study from the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study, which followed 2,868 live births between in 1989 and 1992 in Perth.

A total of 1,771 adolescents were available for the study.

They were asked about alcohol consumption, smoking, physical activity, prescription medications – including the use of oral contraceptives – and dietary patterns and researchers calculated the association between each of these factors and systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

They found that boys had an overall systolic blood pressure 9 mmHg higher than girls not taking the Pill. Among the boys, systolic blood pressure was significantly associated with BMI, urinary sodium, which is a marker of salt intake, and alcohol consumption.

The study also found that regular physical activity was associated with lower diastolic blood pressure.

Using adult blood pressure definition criteria, approximately 24 per cent of the participants were pre-hypertensive or hypertensive. Thirty-four per cent of the overweight and 38 per cent of the obese adolescents were in these high blood pressure categories.

Taking the Pill was significantly linked with raised blood pressure in the girls: the systolic blood pressure of girls taking the Pill, which accounted for 30 per cent of the group, was 3.3 mmHg higher than non-Pill users, and grew higher with increasing BMI.

Dr Chi Le-Ha from the Royal Perth Hospital, Australia, said: “Adolescents need to be aware that a lifestyle which predisposes to fatness, high salt intake and alcohol consumption may lead to adverse health consequences in adult life.

“The effects are additive and already associated with hypertension. Moreover, teenage girls taking oral contraceptives should be advised about regular blood pressure monitoring.”

Oral contraceptive use in girls and alcohol consumption in boys are associated with increased blood pressure in late adolescence. Le-Ha C, Beilin LJ, Burrows S, et al. Eur J Prevent Cardiol 2012. doi: 10.1177/2047487312452966

Tags: Australia | Drug and Alcohol Abuse | Heart Health | Infancy to Adolescence

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