High blood pressure as a teenager may mean thicker arteries by age 30.
Thick arteries, or atherosclerosis, are caused largely by high blood pressure in adults. Obesity is also linked to high blood pressure. Researchers from the University Medical Center in Utrecht, Netherlands, studied nearly 250 healthy men and women and examined their arteries. Researchers also had access to blood pressure readings of these men and women from when the participants were 13 years old. Researchers linked age, body size and sexual maturity to higher blood pressure levels during the teen years. The heavier and more sexually mature the teens were, the higher their blood pressure. Researchers followed the participants and examined them again when they were between the ages of 27 and 30 years old.

Healthy teens who had elevated blood pressure levels were found to have thicker arteries by the time they were 30. Researchers conclude a high body mass index in adolescence has a strong impact on the association between high blood pressure and arterial thickness. Lydia E. Vos, M.D., from the University Medical Center in Utrecht, Netherlands, says, “This shows a clear relationship between overweight and higher blood pressure in adolescents and … [artery thickness] in young adulthood.”

Researchers say maintaining a healthy BMI throughout adolescence is likely to improve the adolescent’s future cardiovascular health.

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