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April 2, 2008

Men with Hypertensive Parents at Greater Risk for High Blood Pressure

For men, having a parent with hypertension greatly increases the risk for developing high blood pressure throughout adulthood, according to the results of a long term prospective study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The study is published in the March 24 issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

“Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is known to run in families. We found a strong independent association between hypertension in both mothers and fathers and elevated blood pressure in men,” said Nae-Yuh Wang, PhD, lead author of the study and an assistant professor with the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research. “Our findings emphasize the importance of asking patients about parental hypertension to identify those who are at risk for developing hypertension, especially at a young age, for both population-based and individual-level interventions.”

Hypertension can lead to cardiovascular disease, stroke and kidney disease.

The study included 1,160 men enrolled in the Precursors Study in 1947. All of the participants attended medical school at Johns Hopkins. At enrollment in the Precursors Study, the participants were examined and completed questionnaires on their medical history and then were reexamined annually for the next 54 years.

After adjusting for factors known to contribute to high blood pressure, such as cigarette and alcohol use, the researchers found that the risk of developing hypertension greatly increased for men when both parents developed hypertension before age 55. Men whose mother and father both had early-onset hypertension had a 6.2-fold higher risk of developing the disease in their adult lives when compared to men without hypertensive parents. The risk of developing the disease at age 35 was 20-fold for men when both parents had early-onset hypertension.

“This study underscores the importance of primary prevention and blood pressure monitoring early in life for men with parental hypertension, especially those who have a parent with early-onset hypertension,” said senior author Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH, who directs the Precursors Study and is dean of the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“Blood Pressure Change and Risk of Hypertension Associated with Parental Hypertension” was written by Nae-Yuh Wang, PhD; J. Hunter Young, MD, MHS; Lucy A. Meoni, ScM; Daniel E. Ford, MD, MPH; Thomas P. Erlinger, MD, MPH; and Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH.

The research was supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

For additional information, please contact Tim Parsons at 410-955-7619 or at tmparson@jhsph.edu.